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University of 
St. Michael s College, Toronto 













AUTHOR S PREFACES I. To the First Edition, . . . 

II. To the Second Edition, . . . 



OHAPTsa L Commodities, ...... 

Section 1. The two Factors of a Commodity : Use Value and Value (the 

Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value), . 

Section 2. The Twofold Character of the Labour embodied in Commodities, 
Section 3. Th Form of Value, or Exchange Value, . . 

A. Elementary or Accidental Form of Value, 

1. The two Poles of the Expression of Value : Relative Form and 

Equivalent Form, ..... 

2. The Relative Form of Value, 

(a. ) The Nature and Import of this Form, . . , 

(b. ) Quantitative Determination of Relative Value, . 

3. The Equivalent Form of Value, . 

4. The Elementary Form of Value considered as a Whole, . 

B. Total or Expanded Form of Valusj, .... 

1. The Expanded Relative Form of Value, . . 

2. The Particular Equivalent Form, . . 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded Form of Value, . . 
(7. The General Form of Value, ..... 

1. The altered Character of the Form of Value, . . . 

2. The interdependent Development of the Relative Form of Value, 

and of the Equivalent Form, .... 

3. Transition from the General Form to the Money Form, . 
D. The Money Form, .... 

Section 4. The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof, 
CHAFTHB II. Exchange, .... 
CHAPTRB III. Money, or the Circulation of Commodities, 
Section 1. The Measure of Value, 
Section 2. The Medium of Circulation, 

a. The Metamorphosis of Commodities, 

6. The Currency of Money, . 

e. Coin, and symbols of Value, . 
Section 3. Money, . . . 

a. Hoarding, . . . 

6. Means of Payment, . . 

c. Universal Money, . . 



CHAPTER IV. The General Formula for Capital, 

CHAPTER V. Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital, , 

CHAPTER VI. The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. . 























vi Contents. 




CHAPTER VII. The Labour Process and the Process of producing Surplus- 
Value, ....... 156 

Section 1. The Labour Process or the Production of Use-Value, . . 156- 

Section 2. The Production of Surplus- Value, .... 166 

CHAPTER VEIL Constant Capital and Variable Capital, . . 180 

CHAPTER IX. The Rate of Surplus -Value, .... 194 

Section 1. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power, . . 194 

Section 2. The Kepresentation of the Components of the Value of the Pro 
duct by corresponding proportional Parts of the Product itself, . 203 
Section 3. Senior s " Last Hour," . . . . .207 

Section 4. Surplus-Produce, ..... 

CHAPTER X. The Working-Pay, ..... 214 

Section 1. The Limits of the Working-Day, .... 214 

Section 2. The Greed for Surplus-Labour. Manufacturer and Boyard, . 218 
Section 3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploita 
tion, ....... 227 

Section 4. Day and Night Work. The Relay System, . . .241 

Section 5. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Compulsory Laws for 
the Extension of the Working-Day from the Middle of the 14th to the 
End of the 17th Century, . . . . .249 

Section 6. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Compulsory Limita 
tion by Law of the Working-Time. The English Factory Acts, 1833 to 
1864, . . . . . . .263 

Section 7. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Re-action of the 

English Factory Acts on Other Countries, . . . 284 

CHAPTER XI. Rate and Mass of Surplus -Value, . . . 28$ 



CHAPTER XII. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value, . . . 800 

CHAPTER XIII. Co-Operation, ..... 811 

CHAPTER XIV. Division of Labour and Manufacture, . . . 327 

Section 1. Twofold Origin of Manufacture, .... 327 

Section 2. The Detail Labourer and his Implements, ... 330 
Section 3. The two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture : Heterogeneous 

Manufacture, Serial Manufacture, .... 333 

Section 4. Division Of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in 

Society, ....... 343 

Section 5. The Capitalistic Character of Manufacture, . . 353 


CHAPTER XV. Machinery and Modern Industry, . , , 865- 

Section 1. The Development of Machinery, .... 365 

2.- *The Value transferred by Machinery to the Product, . . 382 

Contents. vii 


Section 3. The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the "Workman, . 391 

a. Appropriation of Supplementary Labour-Power by Capital. 

The Employment of Women and Children. . . 391 

ft. Prolongation of the Working-Day, 400 

c. Intensification of Labour, . 407 

Section 4. The Factory, ...... 418 

Section 5. The Strife between Workman and Machinery, . . 427 

Section 6. The Theory of Compensation as regards the Workpeople dis 
placed by Machinery, ...... 438 

Section 7. Repulsion and Attraction of Workpeople by the Factory System. 

Crises of- the Cotton Trade, ..... 449 

Section 8. Revolution effected in Manufacture, Handicrafts, and Domestic 

Industry by Modern Industry, ..... 462 

a. Overthrow of Co-Operation based on Handicraft and on Divi 
sion of Labour, ..... 462 

6. Re-action of the Factory System on Manufacture and Domes 
tic Industries, ..... 464 

c. Modern Manufacture, ..... 466 

d. Modern Domestic Industry, .... 469 

e. Passage of Modern Manufacture and Domestic Industry into 

Modern Mechanical Industry. The Hastening of this Re 
volution by the Application of the Factory Acts to those In 
dustries, .... . 474 

Section 9. The Factory Acts. Sanitary and Eductional Clauses of the same. 

Their general Extension in England, . . . 485 

Section 10. Modern Industry and Agriculture, . . . 512 



OH AFTER XVI. Absolute and Relative Surplus- Value, . . . 516 

CHAPTER XVII. Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-Power and in 

Surplus-Value, ...... 527 

I. Length of the Working Day and Intensity of Labour constant. Pro 

ductiveness of Labour variable, .... 528 

II. Working Day constant. Productiveness of Labour constant. In 

tensity of Labour variable, .... 533 

ill. Productiveness and Intensity of Labour constant. Length of the 

Working Day variable, ..... 535 
IV. Simultaneous Variations in the Duration, Productiveness, and In 
tensity of Labour, ..... 537 
(1.) Diminishing Productiveness of Labour with a simultaneous 

Lengthening of the Working Day, . . . 537 

(2.) Increasing Intensity and Productiveness of Labour with simul 
taneous Shortening of the Working Day, . . 539 
CHAPTER XVIII. Various Formulae for the Rate of Surplus- Value, . 541 



CHAPTER XTX. The Transformation of the Value (and respectively the Price) 

of Labour-Power into Wages, .... 645 

CHAPTER XX. Time-Wages, . . . . 553 

CHAPTER XXI. Piece- Wages, ..... 561 

CHAPTER XXII. National Differences of Wages, , . . 570 

viii Contents 




CHAPTER XXIIL Simple Reproduction, .... 577 

CHAPTER XXIV. Conversion of Surplus-Value iato Capital, . . 592 

Section 1. Capitalist Production on a progressively increasing Scale. Transi 
tion of the Laws of Property that characterise Production of Com 
modities into Laws of Capitalist Appropriation, . . . 692 

Section 2. Erroneous Conception, by Political Economy, of Reproduction 

on a progressively increasing Scale, . . . 598 

Section 3. Separation of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue. The 

Abstinence Theory, ..... 603 

Section 4. Circumstances that, independently of the proportional Division 
of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue, determine the 
Amount of Accumulation. Degree of Exploitation of Labour- 
Power. Productivity of Labour. Growing Difference in Amount 
between Capital employed and Capital consumed. Magnitude 
of Capital advanced, ..... 610 

Section 5. The so-called Labour Fund, .... 621 

CHAPTER XXV. The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, . . 625 

Section 1. The increased Demand for Labour-Power that accompanies 

Accumulation, the Composition of Capital remaining the same, 625 

Section 2. Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of Capital simul 
taneously with the Progress of Accumulation and of the Concen 
tration that accompanies it, . . . 635 

Section 3. Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus-Population, or 

Industrial Reserve Army, .... 642 

Section 4. Different Forms of the Relative Surplus-Population. The General 

Law of Capitalistic Accumulation, .... 655 

Section 5. Illustrations of the General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, . 664 
a. England from 1846 to 1866, . . . .664 

6. The badly paid Strata of the British Industrial Class . 670 

c. The Nomad Population, .... 681 

d. Effect of Crises on the best paid Part of the Working Class, 685 
. The British Agricultural Proletariat, . . . 691 
/. Ireland, . . . . . .719 



CHAPTER XXVI. The Secret of Primitive Accumulation, . . 736 
CHAPTER XXVIL Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the 

Land, ...... 740 

CHAPTER XXVIIL Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated from the 
End of the 15th Century. Forcing down of Wages by Acts of 

Parliament, ...... 758 

CHAPTER XXIX. Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer, . . .766 
CHAPTER XXX. Reaction of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. Crea 
tion of the Home Market for Industrial Capital, . . 769 
CHAPTER XXXI. Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist, . . .774 
CHAPTER XXXII. Historical Tendency of Capitalistic Accumulation, . 786 
CHAPTER XXXIII. The Modern Theory of Colonization, . . 790 
Works and Authors quoted in "Capital." . , . 801 


THE publication of an English version of "Das 
Kapital needs no apology. On the contrary, an 
explanation might be expected why this English version 
has been delayed until now, seeing that for some years past 
the theories advocated in this book have been constantly 
referred to, attacked and defended, interpreted and mis 
interpreted, in the periodical press and the current 
literature of both England and America. 

When, soon after the author s death in 1883, it be 
came evident that an English edition of the work was 
really required, Mr. Samuel Moore, for many years a 
friend of Marx and of the present writer, and than 
whom, perhaps, no one is more conversant with the 
book itself, consented to undertake the translation which 
the literary executors of Marx were anxious to lay be 
fore the public. It was understood that I should com 
pare the MS. with the original work, and suggest such 
alterations as I might deem advisable. When, by and 
by, it was found that Mr. Moore s professional occupa 
tions prevented him from finishing the translation as 
quickly as we all desired, we gladly accepted Dr. Aveling s 
offer to undertake a portion of the work ; at the same 
time Mrs. Aveling, Marx s youngest daughter, offered to 
check the quotations and to restore the original text of 

x Editors Preface. 

the numerous passages taken from English authors and 
Bluebooks and translated by Marx into German. This 
has been done throughout, with but a few unavoidable 

The following portions of the book have been trans 
lated by Dr. Aveling : (1J Chapters X. (The Working 
Day), and XL (Rate and Mass of Surplus- Value) ; (2) 
Part VI. (Wages, comprising Chapters XIX. to XXII.) ; 
(3) from Chapter XXIV, Section 4 (Circumstances that 
&c.) to the end of the book, comprising the latter part 
of Chapter XXIV., Chapter XXV., and the whole of 
Part VIII. (Chapters XXVL to XXXIII.) ; (4) the two 
Author s prefaces. All the rest of the book has been 
done by Mr. Moore. While, thus, each of the trans 
lators is responsible for his share of the work only, I 
bear a joint responsibility for the whole. 

The third German edition, which has been made 
the basis of our work throughout, was prepared by 
me, in 1883, with the assistance of notes left by the 
author, indicating the passages of the second edition 
to be replaced by designated passages, from the 
French text published in 1873. 1 The alterations thus 
effected in the text of the second edition generally coin 
cided with changes prescribed by Marx in a set of MS. 
instructions for an English translation that was planned, 
about ten years ago, in America, but abandoned chiefly for 
want of a fit and proper translator. This MS. was placed 
at our disposal by our old friend Mr. F. A. Sorge of 
Hoboken N. J. It designates some further interpolations 
from the French edition ; but, being so many years older 

1 "Le Capital," par Karl Marx. Traduction de M. J. Roy, entitle 
ment revised par 1 auteur. Paris. Lachatre. " This translation, especially in 
the latter part of the book, contains considerable alterations in and additions 
to the text of the second German edition. 

Editors Preface. xi 

than the final instructions for the third edition, I did not 
consider myself at liberty to make use of it otherwise 
than sparingly, and chiefly in cases where it helped us 
over difficulties. In the same way, the French text has 
been referred to in most of the difficult passages, as an 
indicator of what the author himself was prepared to 
sacrifice wherever something of the full import of the 
original had to be sacrificed in the rendering. 

There is, however, one difficulty we could not spare 
the reader : the use of certain terms in a sense different 
from what they have, not only in common life, but in 
ordinary political economy. But this was unavoidable. 
Every new aspect of a science involves a revolution in 
the technical terms of that science. This is best shown by 
chemistry, where the whole of the terminology is radically 
changed about once in twenty years, and where you will 
hardly find a single organic compound that has not gone 
through a whole series of different names. Political 
Economy has generally been content to take, just as they 
were, the terms of commercial and industrial life, and to 
operate with them, entirely failing to see that by so doing, 
it confined itself within the narrow circle of ideas 
expressed by those terms. Thus, though perfectly aware 
that both profits and rent are but sub-divisions, frag 
ments of that unpaid part of the product which the 
labourer has to supply to his employer (its first appro- 
priator, though not its ultimate exclusive owner), yet 
even classical Political Economy never went beyond 
the received notions of profits and rent, never examined 
this unpaid part of the product (called by Marx surplus- 
product) in its integrity as a whole, and therefore never 
arrived at a clear comprehension, either of its origin and 
nature, or of the laws that regulate the subsequent distri 
bution of its value. Similarly all industry, not agricultural 

xii Editor s Preface. 

or handicraft, is indiscriminately comprised in the term of 
manufacture, and thereby the distinction is obliterated be 
tween two great and essentially different periods of econ 
omic history: the period of manufacture proper, based oa 
the division of manual labour, and the period of modern 
industry based on machinery. It is, however, self-evi 
dent that a theory which views modern capitalist pro 
duction as a mere passing stage in the economic history 
of mankind, must make use of terms different from those 
habitual to writers who look upon that form of produc 
tion as imperishable and final. 

A word respecting the author s method of quoting 
may not be out of place. In the majority of cases, the 
quotations serve, in the usual way, as documentary evi 
dence in support of assertions made in the text. But in many 
instances, passages from economic writers are quoted in 
order to indicate when, where, and by whom a certain 
proposition was for the first time clearly enunciated. 
This is done in cases where the proposition quoted is of im 
portance as being a more or less adequate expression of the 
conditions of social production and exchange prevalent 
at the time, and quite irrespective of Marx s recognition, 
or otherwise, of its general validity. These quotations, 
therefore, supplement the text by a running commentary 
taken from the history of the science. 

Our translation comprises the first book of the work 
only. But this first book is in a great measure a whole 
in itself, and has for twenty years ranked as an inde 
pendent work. The second book, edited in German 
by me, in 1885, is decidedly incomplete without the third, 
which cannot be published before the end of 1887. 
When Book III. has been brought out in the original 
German, it will then be soon enough to think about 
preparing an English edition of both. 

Editors Preface. xiii 

" Das Kapital is often called, on the Continent, 
" the Bible of the working class." That the conclusions 
arrived at in this work are daily more and more becoming 
the fundamental principles of the great working class 
movement, not only in Germany and Switzerland, but in 
France, in Holland and Belgium, in America, and even 
in Italy and Spain ; that everywhere the working class 
more and more recognises, in these conclusions, the most 
adequate expression of its condition and of its aspirations, 
nobody acquainted with that movement will deny. 
And in England, too, the theories of Marx, even at this 
moment, exercise a powerful influence upon the socialist 
movement which is spreading in the ranks of " cultured" 
people no less than in those of the working class. But 
that is not all. The time is rapidly approaching when 
a thorough examination of England s economic position 
will impose itself as an irresistible national necessity. The 
working of the industrial system of this country, impos 
sible without a constant and rapid extension of pro 
duction, and therefore of markets, is coming to a dead 
stop. Free trade has exhausted itd resources ; even 
Manchester doubts this Us quondam economic gospel. 1 
Foreign industry, rapidly developing, stares English pro 
duction in the face everywhere, not only in protected, but 
also in neutral markets, and even on this side of the 
Channel. While the productive power increases in a 
geometric, the extension of markets proceeds at best in 
an arithmetic ratio. The decennial cycle of stagnation, 

1 At the quarterly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 
held this afternoon, a warm discussion took place on the subject of Free 
Trade. A resolution was moved to the effect that " having waited in vaia 
40 years for other nations to follow the Free Trade example of England, 
this Chamber thinks the time has now arrived to reconsider that position, * 
The resolution was rejected by a majority of one only, the figures being 
21 for, and 22 against. Evening Standard, Nov. 1, 1886. 

xiv Editor s Preface. 

prosperity, over-production and crisis, ever recurrent 
from 1825 to 1867, seems indeed to have run its course ; 
but only to land us in the slough of despond of a per 
manent and chronic depression. The sighed-for period 
of prosperity will not come ; as often as we seem to per 
ceive its heralding symptoms, so often do they again 
vanish into air. Meanwhile, each succeeding winter brings 
up afresh the great question, "what to do with the 
unemployed ; but while the number of the unemployed 
keeps swelling from year to year, there is nobody to 
answer that question ; and we can almost calculate the 
moment when the unemployed losing patience, will 
take their own fate into their own hands. Surely, at such 
a moment, the voice ought to be heard of a man whose 
whole theory is the result of a life-long study of the 
economic history and condition of England, and whom 
that study led to the conclusion that, at least in Europe, 
England is the only country where the inevitable social 
revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and 
legal means. He certainly never forgot to add that he 
hardly expected the English ruling classes to submit, 
without a " pro-slavery rebellion," to this peaceful and 
legal revolution. 

November 5, 1886. 



THE work, the first volume of which I now submit 
to the public, forms the continuation of my " Zur 
Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie (A contribution to 
the criticism of Political Economy) published in 1859. 
The long pause between the first part and the continu 
ation is due to an illness of many years duration that 
again and again interrupted my work. 

The substance of that earlier work is summarised in 
the first three chapters of this volume. This is done 
not merely for the sake of connection and completeness. 
The presentation of the subject-matter is improved. As 
far as circumstances in any way permit, many points 
only hinted at in the earlier book are here worked out 
more fully, whilst, conversely, points worked out fully 
there are only touched upon in this volume. The 
sections on the history of the theories of value and of 
money are now, of course, left out altogether. The 
reader of the earlier work will find, however, in the 
notes to the first chapter additional sources of reference 
relative to the history of those theories. 

Every beginning is difficult, holds in all sciences. To 
understand the first chapter, especially the section that 
contains the analysis of commodities, will, therefore, pre 
sent the greatest difficulty. That which concerns more 

Author s Prefaces. 

especially the analysis of the substance of value and the 
magnitude of value, I have, as much as it was possible, 
popularised. 1 The value-form, whose fully developed 
shape is the money form, is very elementary and simple. 
Nevertheless, the human mind has for more than 2000 
years sought in vain to get to the bottom of it, whilst on 
the other hand, to tlie successful analysis of much more 
composite and complex forms, there has been at least an 
approximation. Why? Because the body, as an organic 
whole, is more easy of study than are the cells of that 
bedy. In the analysis of economic forms, moreover, 
neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are of use. 
The force of abstraction must replace both. But in 
bourgeois society the jommodity-form of the product of 
labour or the value-form of the commodity is the 
economic cell-form. To the superficial observer, the 
analysis of these forms seems to turn upon mimitiaB. It 
does in fact deal with minutise, but they are of the same 
order as those dealt with in microscopic anatomy. 

With the exception of the section on value-form, 
therefore, this volume cannot stand accused on the score 
of difficulty. I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is 
willing to learn something new and therefore to think 
for himself. 

The physicist either observes physical phenomena 

1 This is the more necessary, as even the section of Ferdinand Lassalle s 
work against Schulze-Delitzsch, in which he professes to give "the intel 
lectual quintessence " of my explanations on these subjects, contains im 
portant mistakes. If Ferdinand Lassalle has borrowed almost literally 
from my writings, and without any acknowledgment, all the general 
theoretical propositioas in his economic works, e.g., those on the historical 
character of capital, on the connection between the conditions of produc 
tion and the mode of production, &c., &c. even to the terminology created 
by me, this may perhaps be due to purposes of propaganda. I am here, 
of course, not speaking of his detailed working out and application of these 
propositions, with which I have nothing to do. 

Author s Prefaces. xvii 

where they occur in their most typical form and most 
free from disturbing influence, or, wherever possible, he 
makes experiments under conditions that assure the 
occurrence of the phenomenon in its normality. In this 
work I have to examine the capitalist mode of produc 
tion, and the conditions of production and exchange cor 
responding to that mode. Up to the present time, their 
classic ground is England. That is the reason why Eng 
land is used as the chief illustration in the development 
of my theoretical ideas. If, however, the German reader 
shrugs his shoulders at the condition of the English in 
dustrial and agricultural labourers, or in optimist fashion 
comforts himself with the thought that in Germany 
things are not nearly so bad ; I must plainly tell him, 
u De te fahula narratur ! 

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or 
lower degree of development of the social antagonisms 
that result from the natural laws of capitalist production. 
It is a question of these laws themselves, of these 
tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevit 
able results. The country that is more developed indus 
trially only shows, to the less developed, the image of 
its own future. 

But apart from this, Where capitalist production is 
fully naturalised among the Germans (for instance, in the 
factories proper) the condition of things is much worse 
than in England, because the counterpoise of the Factory 
Acts is wanting. In all other spheres, we, like all the 
rest of Continental Western Europe, suffer not only from 
the development of capitalist production, but also from 
the incompleteness of that development. Alongside of 
modern evils, a whole series of inherited evils oppress 
us, arising from the passive survival of antiquated modes 
of production, with their inevitable train of social and 

xviii Author s Prefaces. 

political anachronisms. We suffer not only from the 
living, but from the dead. Le mart saisit le vif ! 

The social statistics of Germany and the rest of Con 
tinental Western Europe are, in comparison with those 
of England, wretchedly compiled. But they raise the 
veil just enough to let us catch a glimpse of the Medusa 
head behind it. We should be appalled at the state of 
things at home, if, as in England, our governments and 
parliaments appointed periodically commissions of en 
quiry into economic conditions; if these commissions were 
armed with the same plenary powers to get at the truth; 
if it was possible to find for this purpose men as competent, 
as free from partisanship and respect of persons as are 
the English factory-inspectors, her medical reporters 
on public health, her commissioners of enquiry into the 
exploitation of women and children, into housing and 
food. Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters 
he hunted down might not see him. We draw the 
magic cap down over eyes and ears as a make-believe 
that there are no monsters. 

Let us not deceive ourselves on this. As in the 18th 
century, the American war of independence sounded the 
tocsin for the European middle-class, so in the 19th century, 
the American civil war sounded it for the European 
working-class. In England the progress of social dis 
integration is palpable. When it has reached a certain 
point, it must re-act on the continent. There it will take 
a form more brutal or more humane, according to the 
degree of development of the working-class itself. Apart 
from higher motives, therefore, their own most impor 
tant interests dictate to the classes that are for the 
nonce the ruling ones, the removal of all legally remov 
able hindrances to the free development of the working 
class. For this reason, as well as others, I have given 

Author s Prefaces. xix 

so large a space in this volume to the history, the de 
tails, and the results of English factory legislation. One 
nation can and should learn from others. And even 
when a society has got upon the right track for the dis 
covery of the natural laws of its movement and it is the 
ultimate aim of this work, to lay bare the economic law 
of motion of modern society it can neither clear by 
bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles 
offered by the successive phases of its normal develop 
ment. But it can shorten and lessen the birth-pangs. 

To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I 
paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur 
de rose. But here individuals are dealt with only in so far 
as they are the personifications of economic categories, 
embodiments of particular class-relations and class- 
interests. My stand -point, from which the evolution of 
the economic formation of society is viewed as a process 
of natural history, can less than any other make the 
individual responsible for relations whose creature he 
socially remains, however much he may subjectively 
raise himself above them. 

In the domain of Political Economy, free scientific 
enquiry meets not merely the same enemies as in all 
other domains. The peculiar nature of the material it 
deals with, summons as foes into the field of battle the 
most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human 
breast, the Furies of private interest. The English Estab 
lished Church, e.g., will more readily pardon an attack 
on 38 of its 39 articles than on *V of its income. Now- 
a-days atheism itself is culpa levis, as compared with 
criticism of existing property relations. Nevertheless, 
there is an unmistakable advance. I refer, e.g., to the 
bluebook published within the last few weeks ; " Corre- 
soondence with Her Majesty s Missions Abroad, regard* 

xx Author s Prefaces. 

ing Industrial Questions and Trades Unions." The 
representatives of the English Crown in foreign countries 
there declare in so many words that in Germany, in 
France, to be brief, in all the civilised states of the 
European continent, a radical change in the existing 
relations between capital and labour is as evident and 
inevitable as in England. At the same time, on the 
other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. Wade, vice-presi 
dent of the United States, declared in public meetings- 
that, after the abolition of slavery, a radical change of 
the relations of capital and of property in land is next 
upon the order of the day. These are signs of the 
times, not to be hidden by purple mantles or black 
cassocks. They do not signify that to-morrow a miracle 
will happen. They show that, within the ruling-classes 
themselves, a foreboding is dawning, that the present 
society is no solid crystal, but an organism capable of 
change, and is constantly changing. 

The second volume of this work will treat of the pro 
cess of the circulation of capital 1 (Book II.), and of the 
varied forms assumed by capital in the course of its 
development (Book III.), the third and last volume 
(Book IV.), the history of the theory. 

Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome. 
As to the prejudices of so-called public opinion, to which 
I have never made concessions, now as aforetime the 
maxim of the great Florentine is mine : 

" Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti." 

LONDON, July 25, 1867. 

1 On p. 676 the author explains what he comprises under this head. 

Author s Prefaces. xxi 


To the present moment Political Economy, in Ger 
many, is a foreign science. Gustav von Giilich in his 
" Historical description of Commerce, Industry," &c., 1 
especially in the two first volumes published in 1830, 
has examined at length the historical circumstances that 
prevented, in Germany, the development of the capitalist 
mode of production, and consequently the development, 
in that country, of modern bourgeois society. Thus the 
soil whence Political Economy springs was wanting. 
This "science" had to be imported from England and 
France as a ready-made article ; its German professors 
remained schoolboys. The theoretical expression of a 
foreign reality was turned, in their hands, into a col 
lection of dogmas, interpreted by them in terms of the 
petty trading world around them, and therefore mis 
interpreted. The feeling of scientific impotence, a 
feeling not wholly to be repressed, and the uneasy con 
sciousness of having to touch a subject in reality foreign 
to them, was but imperfectly concealed, either under a 
parade of literary and historical erudition, or by an 
admixture of extraneous material, borrowed from the so- 
called " Kameral " sciences, a medley of smatterings, 
through whose purgatory the hopeless candidate for the 
German bureaucracy has to pass. 

Since 1848 capitalist production has developed rapidly 
in Germany, and at the present time it is in the full 
bloom of speculation and swindling. But fate is still 
unpropitious to our professional economists. At the 
time when they were able to deal with Political Economy 
in a straightforward fashion, modern economic conditions 

1 Geschichtliche Darstellung des Handels, der Gewerbe und des xVcker- 
baus, &c., von Gustav von Giilich. 5 vols., Jena, 1830-45. 

xxii Author s Prefaces. 

did not actually exist in Germany. And as soon as these 
conditions did coine into existence, they did so under cir 
cumstances that no longer allowed of their being really 
and impartially investigated within the bounds of the 
bourgeois horizon. In so far as Political Economy 
remains within that horizon, in so far, *.&, as the capita 
list regime is looked upon as the absolutely final form of 
social production, instead of as a passing historical phase 
of its evolution, Political Economy can remain a science 
only so long as the class-struggle is latent or manifests 
itself only in isolated and sporadic phenomena. 

Let us take England. Its political economy belongs 
to the period in which the class-struggle was as yet un 
developed. Its last great representative, Ricardo, in 
the end, consciously makes the antagonism of class- 
interests, of wages and profits, of profits and rent, the 
starting-point of his investigations, naively taking this 
antagonism for a social law of nature. But by this 
start the science of bourgeois economy had reached the 
limits beyond which it could not pass. Already in the 
lifetime of Ricardo, and in opposition to him, it was met 
by criticism, in the person of Sismondi. 1 

The succeeding period, from 1820 to 1830, was 
notable in England for scientific activity in the domain 
of Political Economy. It was the time as well of the 
vulgarising and extending of Ricardo s theory, as of the 
contest of that theory with the old school. Splendid 
tournaments were held. What was done then, is little 
known to the Continent generally, because the polemic 
is for the most part scattered through articles in reviews, 
occasional literature and pamphlets. The unprejudiced 
character of this polemic although the theory of 

3 See my work "Zur Kritik, &c.," p. 39. 

Author s Prefaces. xxiii 

Ricardo already serves, in exceptional cases, as a weapon 
of attack upon bourgeois economy is explained by the 
circumstances of the time. On the one hand, modern 
industry itself was only just emerging from the age of 
childhood, as is shown by the fact that with the crisis 
of 1825 it for the first time opens the periodic cycle of 
its modern life. On the other hand, the class- struggle 
between capital and labour is forced into the background, 
politically by the discord between the governments and 
the feudal aristocracy gathered around the Holy Alliance 
on the one hand, and the popular masses, led by the bour 
geoisie on the other; economically by the quarrel between 
industrial capital and aristocratic landed property a 
quarrel that in France was concealed by the opposition 
between small and large landed property, and that 
in England broke out openly after the Corn Laws. The 
literature of Political Economy in England at this time 
calls to mind the stormy forward movement in France 
after Dr. Quesnay s death, but only as a Saint Martin s 
summer reminds us of spring. With the year 1830 
came the decisive crisis. 

In France and in England the bourgeoisie had con 
quered political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, 
practically as well as theoretically, took on more and 
more outspoken and threatening forms. It sounded the 
knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth 
no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was 
true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, 
expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not. 
In place of disinterested enquirers, there were hired prize 
fighters ; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad 
conscience and the evil intent of apologetic. Still, even 
the obtrusive pamphlets with which the Anti-Corn Law 

League, led by the manufacturers Cobden and Bright^ 


xxiv Author s Prefaces. 

deluged the world, have a historic interest, if no scientific 
one, on account of their polemic against the landed aris 
tocracy. But since then the Free Trade legislation, 
inaugurated by Sir Robert Peel, has deprived vulgar 
economy of this its last sting. 

The Continental revolution of 1848-9 also had its re 
action in England. Men who still claimed some scien 
tific standing and aspired to be something more than 
mere sophists and sycophants of the ruling-classes, tried 
to harmonise the Political Economy of capital with the 
claims, no longer to be ignored, of the proletariat. 
Hence a shallow syncretism, of which John Stuart Mill 
is the best representative. It is a declaration of bank 
ruptcy by bourgeois economy, an event on which the 
great Russian scholar and critic, N. Tschernyschewsky, 
has thrown the light of a master mind in his " Outlines 
of Political Economy according to Mill." 

In Germany, therefore, the capitalist mode of produc 
tion came to a head, after its antagonistic character had 
already, in France and England, shown itself in a fierce 
strife of classes. And meanwhile, moreover, the German 
proletariat had attained a much more clear class-con 
sciousness than the German bourgeoisie. Thus, at the 
very moment when a bourgeois science of political 
economy seemed at last possible in Germany, it had in 
reality again become impossible. 

Under these circumstances its professors fell into two 
groups. The one set, prudent, practical business folk, 
flocked to the banner of Bastiat, the most superficial 
and therefore the most adequate representative of the 
apologetic of vulgar economy ; the other, proud of the 
professorial dignity of their science, followed John 
Stuart Mill in his attempt to reconcile irreconcilables. 
Just as in the classical time of bourgeois economy, so 

Authors Prefaces. xxv 

also in the time of its decline, the Germans remained 
mere schoolboys, imitators and followers, petty retailers 
and hawkers in the service of the great foreign whole 
sale concern. 

The peculiar historic development of German society 
therefore forbids, in that country, all original work in 
bourgeois economy ; but not the criticism of that 
economy. So far as such criticism represents a class, it 
can only represent the class whose vocation in history 
is the overthrow of the capitalist mode of production 
and the final abolition of all classes the proletariat. 

The learned and unlearned spokesmen of the German 
bourgeoisie tried at first to kill " Das Kapital " by silence, 
as they had managed to do with my earlier writings. As 
soon as they found that these tactics no longer fitted in 
with the conditions of the time, they wrote, under pretence 
of criticising my book, prescriptions " for the tranquillisa- 
tion of the bourgeois mind." But they found in the 
workers press see, e.g., Joseph Dietzgen s articles in 
the " Volksstaat antagonists stronger than themselves, 
to whom (down to this very day) they owe a reply. 1 

An excellent Russian translation of " Das Kapital " ap- 

1 The mealy-mouthed babblers of German vulgar economy fell foul of 
the style of my book. No one can feel the literary shortcomings in " Das 
Kapital " more strongly than I myself. Yet I will for the benefit and the 
enjoyment of these gentlemen and their public quote in this connection 
one English and one Russian notice. The "Saturday Review," always 
hostile to my views, said in its notice of the first edition : " The presenta 
tion of the subject invests the driest economic questions with a certain 
peculiar charm." The "St. Petersburg Journal" (Sankt-Peterburgskie 
Viedomosti), in its issue of April 20, 1872, says : i The presentation of 
the subject, with the exception of one or two exceptionally special parts, 
is distinguished by its comprehensibility by the general reader, its clear 
ness, and, in spite of the scientific intricacy of the subject, by an unusual 
liveliness. In this respect the author in no way resembles . . . the 
majority of German scholars who . . . write their books in a language so 
dry and obscure that the heads of ordinary mortals are cracked by it." 

xx vi Author s Prefaces. 

peared in the spring of 1872. The edition of 3000 
copies is already nearly exhausted. As early as 1871, 
A. Sieber, Professor of Political Economy in the Univer 
sity of Kiev, in his work " David Ricardo s Theory of 
Value and of Capital," referred to my theory of value, of 
money and of capital, as in its fundamentals a necessary 
sequel to the teaching of Smith and Ricardo. That 
which astonishes the Western European in the reading 
of this excellent work, is the author s consistent and firm 
grasp of the purely theoretical position. 

That the method employed in "Das Kapital has 
been little understood, is shown by the various concep 
tions, contradictory one to another, that have been 
formed of it. 

Thus the Paris Revue Posiviste reproaches me in that v 
on the one hand, I treat economics metaphysically, and 
on the other hand imagine . confine myself to the 
mere critical analysis of actual facts, instead of writing 
receipts (Comtist ones ?) for the cook-shops of the future. 
In answer to the reproach in re metaphysics, Professor 
Sieber has it : " In so far as it deals with actual theory, 
the method of Marx is the deductive method of the 
whole English school, a school whose failings and virtues 
are common to the best theoretic economists." M. Block 
" Les th^oriciens du socialisme en Allemagne, Extrait 
du Journal des Economistes, Juillet et Aout 1872 " 
makes the discovery that my method is analytic and 
says : " Par cet ouvrage M. Marx se classe parmi les 
esprits analytiques les plus 6minents." German reviews, 
of course, shriek out at " Hegelian sophistics." The 
European Messenger of St. Peterburg, in an article deal 
ing exclusively with the method of " Das Kapital 
(May number, 1872, pp. 427-436), finds my method of 
inquiry severely realistic, but my method of presentation, 

Author s Prefaces. xxvii 

unfortunately, German-dialectical. It says : " At first 
sight, if the judgment is based on the external form of 
the presentation of the subject, Marx is the most ideal 
of ideal philosophers, always in the German, i.e., the 
bad sense of the word. But in point of fact he is 
infinitely more realistic than all his fore-runners in the 
work of economic criticism. He can in no sense be 
called an idealist." I cannot answer the writer better 
than by aid of a few extracts from his own criticism, 
which may interest some of my readers to whom the 
Russian original is inaccessible. 

After a quotation from the preface to my " Criticism 
of Political Economy, "Berlin, 1859, pp. 4-7, where I dis 
cuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes 
on : " The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to 
find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he 
is concerned ; and not only is that law of moment to him, 
which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have 
a definite form and mutual connection within a given 
historical period. Of still greater moment to him is 
the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of 
their transition from one form into another, from one 
series of connections into a different one. This law once 
discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which 
it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx 
only troubles himself about one thing ; to show, by 
rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive 
determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, 
as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for 
fundamental starting points. For this it is quite enough, 
if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of 
the present order of things, and the necessity of another 
order into which the first must inevitably pass over ; 
and this all the same, whether men believe or do not 

xxviii Author s Prefaces. 

believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of 
it. Marx treats the social movement as a process 
of natural history, governed by laws not only indepen 
dent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but 
rather, on the contrary, determining that will, conscious 
ness and intelligence. . . . If in the history of civilisa 
tion the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, 
then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose sub 
ject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, 
have for its basis any form of, or any result of, conscious 
ness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the 
material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting- 
point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the con 
frontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, 
but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing 
of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accur 
ately as possible, and that they actually form, each with 
respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution ; 
but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the 
series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations 
in which the different stages of such an evolution pre 
sent themselves. But it will be said, the general laws 
of economic life are one and the same, no matter 
whether they are applied to the present or the past. 
This Marx directly denies. According to him, such 
abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his 
opinion every historical period has laws of its own. . . . 
As soon as society has outlived a given period of develop 
ment, and is passing over from one given stage to another, 
it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, 
economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the 
history of evolution in other branches of biology. The 
old economists misunderstood the nature of economic 
laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and 

Author s Prefaces. xxix 

chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena 
shows that social organisms differ among themselves as 
fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the 
same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in 
consequence of the different structure of those organisms 
as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, 
of the different conditions in which those organs function, 
&c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the 
same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the 
contrary, that every stage of development has its own 
law of population. . . . With the varying degree of 
development of productive power, social conditions and 
the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets 
himself the task of following and explain ing from this 
point of view the economic system established by the 
sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly 
scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investiga 
tion into economic life must have. The scientific value of 
such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws 
that regulate the origin, existence, development, death 
of a given social organism and its replacement by 
another and higher one. And it is this value that, in 
point of fact, Marx s book has.* 

Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be 
actually my method, in this striking and [as far as con 
cerns my own application of it] generous way, what 
else is he picturing but the dialectic method ? 

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form 
from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate 
the material in detail, to analyse its different forms of 
development, to trace out their inner connection. Only 
after this work is done, can the actual movement be 
adequately described. If this is done successfully, if 
the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as in a 

xxx Author s Prefaces. 

mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a 
mere a priori construction. 

My dialectic method is not only different from the 
Hegeliam, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the 
life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of 
thinking, which, under the name of " the Idea/ he 
even transforms into an independent subject, is the 
demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only 
the external, phenomenal form of " the Idea." With 
me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the 
material world reflected by the human mind, and trans 
lated into forms of thought. 

The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised 
nearly thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the 
fashion. But just as I was working at the first volume 
of "Das Kapital/ it was the good pleasure of the 
peevish, arrogant, mediocre Eniyovot who now talk large 
in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in same way as 
the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing s time treated 
Spinoza, i.e., as a "dead dog." I therefore openly 
avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and 
even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, 
coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. 
The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel s hands, 
by no means prevents him from being the first to present 
its general form of working in a comprehensive and con 
scious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It 
must be turned right side up again, if you would dis 
cover the rational kernel within the mystical shell. 

In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in 
Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify 
the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a 
scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doc 
trinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehen- 

Authors Prefaces. xxxi 

sion and affirmative recognition of the existing state of 
things, at the same time also, the recognition of the 
negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up ; 
because it regards every historically developed social form 
as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account 
its transient nature not less than its momentary exist 
ence ; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in 
its essence critical and revolutionary. 

The contradictions inherent in the movement of 
capitalist society impress themselves upon the practical 
bourgeois most strikingly in the changes of the periodic 
cycle, through which modern industry runs, and whose 
crowning point is the universal crisis. That crisis is once 
again approaching, although as yet but in its preliminary 
stage ; and by the universality of its theatre and the 
intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into 
the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy 
Prusso-German empire. 


LONDON, January 24, 1873. 








THE wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode 
of production prevails, presents itself as " an immense 
accumulation of commodities," 1 its unit being a single com 
modity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the 
analysis of a commodity. 

A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a 
thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort 
or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, 
they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difier- 

i Karl Marx Zur " Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie." Berlin, 1859, p. 4. 


2 Capitalist Production. 

ence. 1 Neither are we here concerned to know how the object 
satisfies these wants, whether directly as means of subsistence, 
or indirectly as means of production. 

Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c., may be looked at 
from the two points of viaw of quality and quantity. It is 
an assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of 
use in various ways. To discover the various uses of things is 
the work of history * So also is the establishment of socially- 
recognised standards of measure for the quantities of these 
useful objects. The diversity of these measures has its origin 
partly in the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, 
partly in convention. 

The utility of a thing makes it a use-value. 8 But this 
utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical 
properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from 
that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a 
diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use- 
value, something useful. This property of a commodity is 
independent of the amount of labour required to appropriate 
its useful qualities. When treating of use-value, we always 
assume to be dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens 
of watches, yards of linen, or tons of iron. The use- values of 
commodities furnish the material for a special study, that 
of the commercial knowledge of commodities. 4 Use-values 
become a reality only by use or consumption : they also con-. 

1 " Desire implies want ; it is the appetite of the mind, and as natural as hunger to 
the body. . . . The greatest number (of things) have their value from supplying 
the wants of the mind." Nicolas Barbon : " A Discourse on coining the new money 
lighter, in answer to Mr. Locke s Considerations," &c. London, 161)6. p. 2, 3. 

2 " Things have an intrinsick vertue " (this is Barbon s special term for value in use) 
" which in all places have the same vertue ; as the loadstone to attract iron " (l.c., 
p. 6). The property which the magnet possesses of attracting iron, became of use 
only after by means of that property the polarity of the magnet had been discovered. 

3 " The natural worth of anything consists in its fitness to supply the necessities, 
or serve the conveniencies of human life." (John Loeke, "Some considerations on 
the consequences of the lowering of interest, 1691," in Works Edit. Lond., 1777, 
Vol. II., p. 28.) In English writers of the 17th century we frequently find "worth" 
in the sense of value in use, and "value " in the sense of exchange value. This is 
quite in accordance with the spirit of a language that likes to use a Teutonic word 
for the actual thing, and a Romance word for its reflexion. 

4 In bourgeois societies the economical fictio juris prevails, that every one, as a 
buyer, possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of commodities. 

Commodities. 3 

stitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social 
form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to 
consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of 
exchange value. 

Exchange value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantitative 
relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort 
are exchanged for those of another sort, 1 a relation constantly 
changing with time and place. Hence exchange value appears 
to be something accidental and purely relative, and conse 
quently an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange value that is 
inseparably connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a 
contradiction in terms.* Let us consider the matter a little 
more closely. 

A given commodity, e.g., a quarter of wheat is exchanged 
for x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c. in short, for other com 
modities in the most different proportions. Instead of one 
exchange value, the wheat has, therefore, a great many. But 
since x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c., each represent the 
exchange value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, 
z gold, &c., must, as exchange values, be replaceable by each 
other, or equal to each other. Therefore, first : the valid 
exchange values of a given commodity express something 
equal ; secondly, exchange value, generally, is only the mode 
of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained 
in it, yet distinguishable from it. 

Let us take two commodities, e.g., corn and iron. The pro 
portions in which they are exchangeable, whatever those pro 
portions may be, can always be represented by an equation in 
which a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of 
iron : e.g., 1 quarter corn=x cwt. iron. What does this equa 
tion tell us ? It tells us that in two different things in 1 
quarter of corn and x cwt. of iron, there exists in equal quan 
tities something common to both. The two things must there- 

1 "La valeur consists dans le rapport d echange qui se trouve entre telle chose ci 
telle autre, entre telle mesure d une production, et telle rnesure d une autre." (Le 
Trosne : De 1 Interet Social. Physioerates, Ed. Daire. Paris, 1845. P. 889.) 

"Nothing can have an intrinsick value." (N. Barbon, Lc., p. 6); or as Butler 

" The value of a thing 
Is just as much as it will bring." 

4 Capitalist Production. 

fore be equal to a third, which in itself is neither the one nor 
the other. Each of them, so far as it is exchange value, must 
therefore be reducible to this third. 

A simple geometrical illustration will make this clear. In 
order to calculate and compare the areas of rectilinear figures r 
we decompose them into triangles. But the area of the tri 
angle itself is expressed by something totally different from its 
visible figure, namely, by half the product of the base into 
the altitude. In the same way the exchange values of com 
modities must be capable of being expressed in terms of some 
thing common to them all, of which thing they represent a 
greater or less quantity. 

This common " something " cannot be either a geometrical, 
a chemical, or any other natural property of commodities. 
Such properties claim our attention only in so far as they 
affect the utility of those commodities, make them use-values. 
But the exchange of commodities is evidently an act character 
ised by a total abstraction from use-value. Then one use- 
value is just as good as another, provided only it be present in 
sufficient quantity. Or, as old Barbon says, "one sort of 
wares are as good as another, if the values be equal. There is 
no difference or distinction in things of equal value .... 
An hundred pounds worth of lead or iron, is of as great value- 
as one hundred pounds worth of silver or gold." 1 As use-values,, 
commodities are, above all, of different qualities, but as ex 
change values they are merely different quantities, and conse 
quently do not contain an atom of use- value. 

If then we leave out of consideration the use-value of com 
modities, they have only one common property left, that of 
being products of labour. But even the product of labour 
itself has undergone a change in our hands. If we make 
abstraction from its use-value, we make abstraction at the 
same time from the material elements and shapes that make 
the product a use-value ; we see in it no longer a table, a house, 
yarn, or any other useful thing. Its existence as a material 
thing is put out of sight. Neither can it any longer be re 
garded as the product of the labour of the joiner, the mason fr 

i N. Barbon, 1. c. p. 53 and 7. 

Commodities. 5 

the spinner, or of any other definite kind of productive 
labour. Along with the useful qualities of the products them 
selves, we put out of sight both the useful character of the 
various kinds of labour embodied in them, and the concrete 
forms of that labour ; there is nothing left but what is common 
to thein^airpalL^are reduced w to one and the same sort of 

labourHiuman labour in the abstract. 

* ^ 

Let us now consider the residue of each of these product 

it consists of the same unsubstantial reality in each, a mere 
congelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour-power ex 
pended without regard to the mode of its expenditure. All 
that these things now tell us is, that human labour-power has 
been expended in their production, that human labour is em 
bodied in them. When looked at as crystals of this social 
substance, common to them all. they are* Valued 


We have seen that when commodities are exchanged, t 
exchange value manifests itself as something totally independ 
ent of their use- value. But if we abstract from their use- value, 
there remains their Value as defined above. Therefore, the 
common substance that manifests itself in the exchange value 


of commodities, whenever they are exchanged, is their value. 
The progress of our investigation will show that exchange 
value is the only form in which the value of commodities can 
manifest itself or be expressed. For the present, however, we 
have to consider the nature of value independently of this, its 

A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because 
human labour in the abstract has been embodied or material 
ised in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be 
measured ? Plainly, by the quantity of the value-creating 
substance, the labour, contained in the article. The quantity 
of labour, however, is measured by its duration, and labour- 
time in its turn finds its standard in weeks, days, and hours. 

Some people might think that if the value of a commodity 
is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more 
idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his 
commodity be, because more time would be required in its 
production. The labour, however- tfiat forms the substance of 

6 Capitalist Production. 

value, is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uniform- 
labour-power. The total labour-power of society, which is 
embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities pro 
duced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of 
human labour-power, composed though it be of innumerable 
individual units. Each of these units is the same as any other, 
so far as it has the character of the average labour-power of 
society, and takes effect as such ; that is, so far as it requires for 
producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an 
average, no more than is socially necessary. The labour-time 
socially necessary is that required to produce an article under 
the normal conditions of production, and with the average 
degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time. The intro 
duction of power looms into England probably reduced by one 
half the labour required to weave a given quantity of yarn into 
cloth. The hand-loom weavers, as a matter of fact, continued 
to require the same time as before ; but for all that, the pro 
duct of one hour of their labour represented after the change 
only half an hour s social labour, and consequently fell to one- 
half its former value. 

We see then that that which determines the magnitude of 
the value of any article is the amount of labour socially neces 
sary, or the labour-time socially necessary for its production. 1 
Each individual commoditv, in this connexion, is to be con- 


sidered as an average sample of its class. 9 Commodities, there 
fore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or 
which can be produced in the same time, have the same value. 
The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the 
labour-time necessary for the production of the one is to that 
necessary for the production of the other. " As values, all com 
modities are only definite masses of congealed labour-time."* 

1 " The value of them (the necessaries of life), when they are exchanged the one for 
another, is regulated by the quantity of labour necessarily required, and commonly 
taken in producing them." (Some Thoughts on the Interest of Money in general, and 
particularly in the Publick Funds, &c. Lond., p. 36.) This remarkable anonymous 
work, written in the last century, bears no date. It is clear, however, from internal 
evidence, that it appeared in the reign of George II. about 1739 or 1740. 

2 " Toutes les productions d un meme genre ne forment proprement qu une masse* 
dont le prix se determine en general et sans 6gard aux circonstances particulieres.** 
(Le Trosne, 1. c. p. 893.) 3 K. Marx. 1. c. p. 6. 


The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, 
if the labour-time required for its production also remained 
constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the 
productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined 
by various circumstances, amongst others, by the average 
amount of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the 
degree of its practical application, the social organisation of 
production, the extent and capabilities of the means of pro 
duction, and- by physical conditions. For example, the 
same amount of labour in favourable seasons is embodied 
in 8 bushels of corn, and in unfavourable, only in four. 
The same labour extracts from rich mines more metal than 
from poor mines. Diamonds are of very rare occurrence on 
the earth s surface, and hence their discovery costs, on an aver 
age, a great deal of labour-time. Consequently much labour 
is represented in a small compass. Jacob doubts whether gold 
has ever been paid for at its full value. This applies still 
more to diamonds. According to Eschwege, the total produce 
of the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending 
in 1823, had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years 
average produce of the sugar and coffee plantations of the 
same country, although the diamonds cost much more labour, 
and therefore represented more value. With richer mines, the 
same quantity of labour would embody itself in more diamonds, 
and their value would fall. If we could succeed at a small 
expenditure of labour, in converting carbon into diamonds, 
their value might fall below that of bricks. In general, the 
greater the productiveness of labour, the less is the labour-time 
required for the production of an article, the less is the amount 
of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is its value ; 
and vice versd, the less the productiveness of labour, the greater 
is the labour-time required for the production of an article, 
and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, there 
fore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the 
productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it. 

A thing can be a use- value, without having value. This is 
the case whenever its utility to man is not due to labour. 
Such are air, virgin soil, natural meadows, &c. A thing can 


8 Capitalist Production. 

be useful, and the product of human labour, without being a 
commodity. Whoever directly satisfies his wants with the 
produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use-values, but not 
commodities. In order to produce the latter, he must not only 
produce use- values, but use-values for others, social use- values. 
Lastly, nothing can have value, without being an object of 
utility. If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in 
it ; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates 
no value. 



At first sight a commodity presented itself to us as a complex 
of two things use-value and exchange-value. Later on, we 
saw also that labour, too, possesses the same two-fold nature ; 
for, so far as it finds expression in value, it does not possess the 
same characteristics that belong to it as a creator of use-values. 
I was the first to point out and to examine critically this two 
fold nature of the labour contained in commodities. As this 
point is the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political 
economy turns, we must go more into detail. 

Let us take two commodities such as a coat and 10 yards of 
linen, and let the former be double the value of the latter, so 
that, if 10 yards of linen= W, the coatr=2W. 


The coat is a use-value that satisfies a particular want. Its 
existence is the result of a special sort of productive activity, 
the nature of which is determined by its aim, mode of opera 
tion, subject, means, and result. The labour, whose utility is 
thus represented by the value in use of its product, or which 
manifests itself by making its product a use-value, we call 
useful labour. In this connexion we consider only its useful 

As the coat and the linen are two qualitatively different use- 
values, so also are the two forms of labour that produce them, 
tailoring and weaving. Were these two objects not quali 
tatively different, not produced respectively by labour of 
different quality, thev could not stand to each other in the 

Commodities. 9 

relation of commodities. Coats are not exchanged for coats, 
one use-value is not exchanged for another of the same kind. 

To all the different varieties of values in use there correspond as 
many different kinds of useful labour, classified according to the 
order, genus, species, and variety to which they belong in the 
social division of labour. This division of labour is a necessary 
condition for the production of commodities, but it does not 
follow, conversely, that the production of commodities is a 
necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive 
Indian community there is social division of labour, without 
production of commodities. Or, to take an example nearer 
home, in every factory the labour is divided according to a 
system, but this division is not brought about by the operatives 
mutually exchanging their individual products. Only such 
products can become commodities with regard to each other, as 
result from different kinds of labour, each kind being carried 
on independently and for the account of private individuals. 

To resume, then : In the use- value of each commodity there 
is contained useful labour, i.e., productive activity of a definite 
kind and exercised with a definite aim. Use- values cannot 
confront each other as commodities, unless the useful labour 
embodied in them is qualitatively different in each of them. 
- In a community, the produce of which in general takes the 
form of commodities, i.e., in a community of commodity pro 
ducers, this qualitative difference between the useful forms of 
labour that are carried on independently by individual pro 
ducers, each on their own account, develops into a complex 
system, a social division of labour. 

Anyhow, whether the coat be worn by the tailor or by his 
customer, in either case it operates as a use-value. Nor is the 
relation between the coat and the labour that produced it 
altered by the circumstance that tailoring may have become a 
special trade, an independent branch of the social division of 
labour. Wherever the want of clothing forced them to it, the 
human race made clothes for thousands of years, without a 
single man becoming a tailor. But coats and linen, like every 
other element of material wealth that is not the spontaneous 
produce of nature, must invariably owe their existence to a 

io Capitalist Production. 

special productive activity, exercised with a definite aim, an 
activity that appropriates particular nature-given materials to 
particular human wants. So far therefore as labour is a 
creator of use- value, is useful labour, it is a necessary con 
dition, independent of all forms of society, for the existence of 
the human race ; it is an eternal nature-imposed necessity, 
without which there can be no material exchanges between 
man and Nature, and therefore no life. 

The use-values, coat, linen, &c., i.e., the bodies of commodi 
ties, are combinations of two elements matter and labour. 
If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a 
material substratum is always left, which is furnished by 
Nature without the help of man. The latter can work only 
as Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter. 1 Nay 
more, in this work of changing the form he is constantly helped 
by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the only 
source of material wealth, of use-values produced by labour. 
As William Petty puts it, labour is its father and the earth its 

Let us now pass from the commodity considered as a use- 
value to the value of commodities. 

By our assumption, the coat is worth twice as much as the 
linen. But this is a mere quantitative difference, which for the 
present does not concern us. We bear in mind, however, that 
if the value of the coat is double that of 10 yds. of linen, 20 
yds. of linen must have the same value as one coat. So far 
as they are values, the coat and the linen are things of a like 
substance, objective expressions of essentially identical labour. 
But tailoring and weaving are, qualitatively, different kinds of 

1 Tutti i fenomeni dell universe, sieno essi prodotti della mano dell uomo, ovvero 
delle universal! leggi della fisica, non ci danno idea di attuale creazione, ma unica- 
mente di una modificazione della materia. Accostare e separare sono gli unici ele- 
menti che 1 ingegno umano ritrova analizzando 1 idea della riproduzione : e tanto e ri- 
produzione di valore (value in use, although Verri in this passage of his controversy 
with the Physiocrats is not himself quite certain of the kind of value he is speaking 
of) e di ricchezze se la terra 1 ariae 1 acqua ne campi si trasmutino in grano, come se 
eolla mano dell uomo il glutine di un insetto si trasmuti in velluto owero alcuni pez- 
setti di metallo si organizzino a formare una ripetizione." Pietro Verri. " Medita- 
rioni sulla Economia Politica " [first printed in 1773] in Custodi s edition of the 
Economists, Parte Moderna, t. iv. p. 22. 

Commodities. 1 1 

labour. There are, however, states of society in which one and 
the same man does tailoring and weaving alternately, in which 
case these two forms of labour are mere modifications of the 
labour of the same individual, and not special and fixed func 
tions of different persons ; just as the coat which our tailor 
makes one day, and the trousers which he makes another day, 
imply only a variation in the labour of one and the same indi 
vidual. Moreover, we see at a glance that, in our capitalist 
society, a given portion of human labour is, in accordance with 
the varying demand, at one time supplied in the form of tailor 
ing, at another in the form of weaving. This change may 
possibly not take place without friction, but take place it must. 
Productive activity, if we leave out of sight its special form, 
viz., the useful character of the labour, is nothing but the ex 
penditure of human labour-power. Tailoring and weaving^ 
though qualitatively different productive activities, are each a 
productive expenditure of human brains, nerves, and muscles, 
and in this sense are human labour. They are but two 
different modes of expending human labour-power. Of course, 
this labour-power, which remains the same under all its modi 
fications, must have attained a certain pitch of development 
before it can be expended in a multiplicity of modes. But the 
value of a commodity represents human labour in the abstract, 
the expenditure of human labour in general. And just as in 
society, a general or a banker plays a great part, but mere 
man, on the other hand, a very shabby part, 1 so here with 
mere human labour. It is the expenditure of simple labour- 
power, i.e., of the labour-power which, on an average, apart 
from any special development, exists in the organism of every 
ordinary individual. Simple average labour, it is true, varies 
in character in different countries and at different times, but 
in a particular society it is given. Skilled labour counts only 
as simple labour intensified, or rather, as multiplied simple 
labour, a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a 
greater quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this 
reduction is constantly being made. A commodity may be the 
product of the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating 

1 Oomp. Hegel, Philosophic des Kechta. Berlin, 1840. P. 250 190. 

12 Capitalist Production. 

it to the product of simple unskilled labour, represents a 
definite quantity of the latter labour alone. 1 The different 
proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to 
unskilled labour as their standard, are established by a social 
process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, 
consequently, appear to be fixed by custom. For simplicity s 
sake we shall henceforth account every kind of labour to be 
unskilled, simple labour; by this we do no more than save 
ourselves the trouble of making the reduction. 

Just as, therefore, in viewing the coat and linen as values, 
we abstract from their different use-values, so it is with the 
labour represented by those values : we disregard the difference 
between its useful forms, weaving and tailoring. As the use- 
values, coat and linen, are combinations of special productive 
Activities with cloth and yarn, while the values, coat and linen, 
are, on the other hand, mere homogeneous congelations of 
indifferentiated labour, so the labour embodied in these latter 
values does not count by virtue of its productive relation to 
xjloth and yarn, but only as being expenditure of human 
labour-power. Tailoring and weaving are necessary factors in 
the creation of the use-values, coat and linen, precisely because 
these two kinds of labour are of different qualities ; but only 
in so far as abstraction is made from their special qualities, 
only in so far as both possess the same quality of being human 
labour, do tailoring and weaving form the substance of the 
values of the same articles. 

Coats and linen, however, are not merely values, but values 
of definite magnitude, and according to our assumption, the 
<;oat is worth twice as much as the ten yards of linen. Whence 
this difference in their values ? It is owing to the fact that 
the linen contains only half as much labour as the coat, 
and conseqently, that in the production of the latter, labour- 
power must have been expended during twice the time 
necessary for the production of the former. 

While, therefore, with reference to use-value, the labour con- 

1 The reader must note that we are not speaking here of the wages or value that 
*he labourer gets for a given labour time, but of the value of the commodity in which 
that labour time is materialised. Wages is a category that, as yet, has no existence 
At the present stage of our investigation. 

Commodities. 1 3 

tainect in a commodity counts only qualitatively, with refer 
ence to value it counts only quantitatively, and must first be 
reduced to human labour pure and simple. In the former 
case, it is a question of How and What, in the latter of How 
much ? How long a time ? Since the magnitude of the value of 
a commodity represents only the quantity of labour embodied 
in it, it follows that all commodities, when taken in certain 
proportions, must be equal in value. 

If the productive power of all the different sorts of useful 
labour reouired for the production of a coat remains unchanged, 
the sum of the values of the coats produced increases with 
their number. If one coat represents x days labour, two 
coats represent 2x days labour, and so on. But assume that 
the duration of the labour necessary for the production of a 
coat becomes doubled or halved. In the first case, one coat is 
worth as much as two coats were before ; in the second case, 
two coats are only worth as much as one was before, although 
in both cases one coat renders the same service as before, and 
the useful labour embodied in it remains of the same quality. 
But the quantity of labour spent on its production has altered. 

An increase in the quantity of use-values is an increase of 
material wealth. With two coats two men can be clothed, 
with one coat only one man. Nevertheless, an increased 
quantity of material wealth may correspond to a simultaneous 
fall in the magnitude of its value. This antagonistic move- 

o o 

ment has its origin in the two-fold character of labour. 
Productive power has reference, of course, only to labour of 
some useful concrete form ; the efficacy of any special produc^ 
tive activity during a given time being dependent on its 
productiveness. Useful labour becomes, therefore, a more or 
less abundant source of products, in proportion to the rise or 
fall of its productiveness. On the other hand, no change in this 
productiveness affects the labour represented by value. Since 
productive power is an attribute of the concrete useful forms 
of labour, of course it can no longer have any bearing on that 
labour, so soon as we make abstraction from those concrete 
useful forms. However then productive power may vary, the 
same labour, exercised during equal periods of time, always 

14 Capitalist Production 

yields equal amounts of value. But it will yield, during equal 
periods of time, different quantities of values in use ; more, if 
the productive power rise, fewer, if it fall. The same change 
in productive power, which increases the fruitfulness of labour, 
and, in consequence, the quantity of use- values produced by 
that labour, will diminish the total value of this increased 
quantity of use-values, provided such change shorten the total 
labour-time necessary for their production ; and vice versd. 

On the one hand all labour is, speaking physiologically, an. 
expenditure of human labour-power, and in its character of 
identical abstract human labour, it creates and forms the value 
of commodities. On the other hand, all labour is the expendi 
ture of human labour-power in a special form and with a 
definite aim, and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, 
it produces use-values. 1 


Commodities come into the world in the shape of use- values, 
articles, or goods, such as iron, linen, corn, &c. This is their 

i In order to prove that labour alone is that all-sufficient and real measure, by 
which at all times the value of all commodities can be estimated and compared, 
Adam Smith says, " Equal quantities of labour must at all times and in all places 
have the same value for the labourer. In his normal state of health, strength, and 
activity, and with the average degree of skill that he may possess, he must always 
give up the same portion of his rest, his freedom, and his happiness." (Wealth of 
Nations, b. I. ch. v.) On the one hand, Adam Smith here (but not everywhere) con 
fuses the determination of value by means of the quantity of labour expended in the 
production of commodities, with the determination of the values of commodities by 
means of the value of labour, and seeks in consequence to prove that equal quantities 
of labour have always the same value. On the other hand, he has a presentiment, 
that labour, so far as it manifests itself in the value of commodities, counts only 83 
expenditure of labour power, but he treats this expenditure as the mere sacrifice of 
rest, freedom, and happiness, not as "at the same time the normal activity of living 
beings. But then, he has the modern wage-labourer in his eye. Much more aptly, 
the anonymous predecessor of Adam Smith, quoted above in Note \ p. 6, says "one man 
has employed himself a week in providing this necessary of life . . . and he that 
gives him some other in exchange, cannot make a better estimate of what is a pro 
per equivalent, than by computing what cost him just as much labour and time : 
which in effect is no more than exchanging one man s labour in one thing for a tima 
certain, for another man s labour in another thing for the same time." (1. c. p. 39.) 
[The English language has the advantage of possessing different words for the two 
aspects of labour here considered. The labour which creates Use- Value, and counts 
qualitatively, is Work, as distinguished from Labour ; that which creates Value and 
counts quantitatively, is Labour as distinguished from Work. ED.] 


plain, homely, bodily form. They are, however, commodities, 
only because they are something twofold, both objects of utility, 
and, at the same time, depositories of value. They manifest 
themselves therefore as commodities, or have the form of com 
modities, only in so far as they have two forms, a physical 
or natural form, and a value form. 

The reality of the value of commodities differs in this respect 
from Dame Quickly, that we don t know " where to have it." 
The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse mate^ 
riality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its 
composition. Turn and examine a single commodity, by itself, 
as we will. Yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it 
seems impossible to grasp it. If, however, we bear in mind that 
the value of commodities has a purely social reality, and that 
they acquire this reality only in so far as they are expressions 
or embodiments of one identical social substance, viz., human 
labour, it follows as a matter of course, that value can only 
manifest itself in the social relation of commodity to com 
modity. In fact we started from exchange value, or the 
exchange relation of commodities, in order to get at the value 
that lies hidden behind it. We must now return to this form 
under which value first appeared to us. 

Every one knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities 
have a value form common to them all, and presenting a 
marked contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use- 
values. I mean their money form. Here, however, a task is set 
us, the performance of which has never yet even been attempted 
by bourgeois economy, the task of tracing the genesis of this 
money form, of developing the expression of value implied in 
the value relation of commodities, from its simplest, almost 
imperceptible outline, to the dazzling money form. By doing 
this we shall, at the same time, solve the riddle presented by 

The simplest value relation is evidently that of one com 
modity to some one other commodity of a different kind. 
Hence the relation between the values of two commodities sup 
plies us with the simplest expression of the value of a single 

1 6 Capitalist Production. 

A. Elementary or Accidental Form of Value. 

x commodity A = y commodity B, or 
x commodity A is worth y commodity B. 

20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or 

20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat. 

1. The two poles of the expression of value : Relative form and 

Equivalent form. 

The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in 
this elementary form. Its analysis, therefore, is our real 

Here two different kinds of commodities (in our example 
the linen and the coat), evidently play two different parts. 
The linen expresses its value in the coat; the coat serves as the 
material in which that value is expressed. The former plays 
an active, the latter a passive, part. The value of the linen is 
represented as relative value, or appears in relative form. 
The coat officiates as equivalent, or appears in equivalent 

The relative form and the equivalent form are two intimately 
connected, mutually dependent and inseparable elements of the 
expression of value ; but, at the same time, are mutually 
exclusive, antagonistic extremes i.e., poles of the same 
expression. They are allotted respectively to the two different 
commodities brought into relation by that expression. It is 
not possible to express the value of linen in linen. 20 yards 
of linen = 20 yards of linen is no expression of value. On the 
contrary, such an equation merely says that 20 yards of linen 
are nothing else than 20 yards of linen, a definite quantity of 
the use-value linen. The value of the linen can therefore be 
expressed only relatively i.e., in some other commodity. The 
relative form of the value of the linen pre-supposes, therefore, 
the presence of some other commodity here the coat under 
the form of an equivalent. On the other hand, the commodity 
that figures as the equivalent cannot at the same time assume 
the relative form. That second commodity is not the one 
whose value is expressed. Its function is merely to serve as 

Commodities. i 7 

the material in which the value of the first commodity is 

No doubt, the expression 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or 20 
yards of linen are worth 1 coat, implies the opposite relation : 1 
coat = 20 yards of linen, or 1 coat is worth 20 yards of linen. 
But, in that case, I must reverse the equation, in order to 
express the value of the coat relatively ; and, so soon as I do 
that, the linen becomes the equivalent instead of the coat. 
A single commodity cannot, therefore, simultaneously assume, 
in the same expression of value, both forms. The very 
polarity of these forms makes them mutually exclusive. 

Whether, then, a commodity assumes the relative form, or 
the opposite equivalent form, depends entirely upon its acci 
dental position in the expression of value that is, upon 
whether it is the commodity whose value is being expressed or 
the commodity in which value is being expressed. 

2. The Relative form of value. 
(a.) The nature and import of this form. 

In order to discover how the elementary expression of the 
value of a commodity lies hidden in the value relation of two 
commodities, we must, in the first place, consider the latter 
entirely apart from its quantitative aspect. I 1 he usual mode of 
procedure is generally the reverse, and in the value relation 
nothing is seen but the proportion between definite quantities 
of two different sorts of commodities that are considered equal 
to each other. It is apt to be forgotten that the magnitudes 
of different things can be compared quantitatively, only wnen 
those magnitudes are expressed in terms of the same unit. It 
is only as expressions of such a unit that they are of the same 
denomination, and therefore commensurable. 1 

Whether 20 yards of linen = 1 coat or = 20 coats or = x 

i The few economists, amongst whom is S. Bailey, who have occupied themselves 
with the analysis of the form of value, have been unable to arrive at any result, first, 
because they confuse the form of value with value itself ; and second, because, under 
the coarse influence of the practical bourgeois, they exclusively give their attention to 
the quantitative aspect of the question. "The command of quantity . . . 
constitutes value." (" Money and its Vicissitudes." London, 1837. p. 11. By S. 

1 8 Capitalist Production. 

coats that is, whether a given quantity of linen is worth few 
or many coats, every such statement implies that the linen and 
coats, as magnitudes of value, are expressions of the same unit, 
things of the same kind. Linen = coat is the basis of the 

But the two commodities whose identity of quality is thus 
assumed, do not play the same part. It is only the value of 
the linen that is expressed. And how ? By its reference to 
the coat as its equivalent, as something that can be exchanged 
for it. In this relation the coat is the mode of existence of 
value, is value embodied, for only as such is it the same as the 
linen. On the other hand, the linen s own value comes to the 
front, receives independent expression, for it is only as being 
value that it is comparable with the coat as a thing of equal 
value, or exchangeable with the coat. To borrow an illustra 
tion from chemistry, butyric acid is a different substance from 
propyl formate. Yet both are made up of the same chemical 
substances, carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O), and 
that, too, in like proportions namely, C 4 H 8 O a . If now we 
equate butyric acid to propyl formate, then, in the first place, 
propyl formate would be, in this relation, merely a form of 
existence of C 4 H 8 2 ; and in the second place, we should be 
stating that butyric acid also consists of C<H 8 O a . Therefore, 
by thus equating the two substances, expression would be given 
to their chemical composition, while their different physical 
forms would be neglected. 

If we say that, as values, commodities are mere congelations 
of human labour, we reduce them by our analysis, it is true, to 
the abstraction, value ; but we ascribe to this value no form 
apart from their bodily form. It is otherwise in the value 
relation of one commodity to another. Here, the one stands 
forth in its character of value by reason of its relation to the 

By making the coat the equivalent of the linen, we equate 
the labour embodied in the former to that in the latter. Now, 
it is true that the tailoring, which makes the coat, is concrete 
labour of a different sort from the weaving which makes the 
linen. But the act of equating it to the weaving, reduces the 

Commodities. 1 9 

tailoring to that which is really equal in the two kinds ol 
labour, to their common character of human labour. In this 
roundabout way, then, the fact is expressed, that weaving also, 
in so far as it weaves value, has nothing to distinguish it from 
tailoring, and, consequently, is abstract human labour. It is 
the expression of equivalence between different sorts of com 
modities that alone brings into relief the specific character of 
value -creating labour, and this it does by actually reducing 
the different varieties of labour embodied in the different 
kinds of commodities to their common quality of human labour 
in the abstract. 1 

There is, however, something else required beyond the 
expression of the specific character of the labour of which the 
value of the linen consists. Human labour-power in motion, 
or human labour, creates value, but is not itself value. It 
becomes value only in its congealed state, when embodied in 
the form of some object. In order to express the value of the 
linen as a congelation of human labour, that value must be 
expressed as having objective existence, as being a something 
materially different from the linen itself, and yet a something 
common to the linen and all other commodities. The problem 
is already solved. 

When occupying the position of equivalent in the equation 
of value, the coat ranks qualitatively as the equal of the linen, 
as something of the same kind, because it is value. In this posi 
tion it is a thing in which we see nothing but value, or whose 
palpable bodily form represents value. Yet the coat itself, the 
body of the commodity, coat, is a mere use- value. A coat as 
such no more tells us it is value, than does the first piece of 
-linen we take hold of. This shows that when placed in value 

i The celebrated Franklin, one of the first economists, after "Win. Petty, who saw 
-through the nature of value, says: "Trade in general being nothing else but the 
exchange of labour for labour, the value of all things is .... most justly 
measured by labour." (The works of B. Franklin, &c., edited by Sparks. Boston, 
183G, Vol. II., p. 267.) Frauklin is unconscious that by estimating the value of 
everything in labour, he makes abstraction from any difference in the sorts of labour 
exchanged, and thus reduces them all to equal human labour. But although 
ignorant of this, yet he says it. He speaks first of " the one labour," then of "the 
other labour," and finally of "labour," without further qualification, as the substance 
ot the value of everything. 

2O Capitalist Production. 

relation to the linen, the coat signifies more than when out of 
that relation, just as many a man strutting about in a gorgeous 
uniform counts for more than when in mufti. 

In the production of the coat, human labour-power, in the 
shape of tailoring, must have been actually expended. Human 
labour is therefore accumulated in it. In this aspect the coat is 
a depository of value, but though worn to a thread, it does not 
let this fact show through. And as equivalent of the linen in 
the value equation, it exists under this aspect alone, counts 
therefore as embodied value, as a body that is value. A, for 
instance, cannot be "your majesty" to B, unless at the same 
time majesty in B s eyes assumes the bodily form of A, and, 
what is more, with every new father of the people, changes its 
features, hair, and many other things besides. 

Hence, in the value equation, in which the coat is the equiva 
lent of the linen, the coat officiates as the form of value. The 
value of the commodity linen is expressed by the bodily form of 
the commodity coat, the value of one by the use- value of the 
other. As a use- value, the linen is something palpably dif 
ferent from the coat ; as value, it is the same as the coat, and 
now has the appearance of a coat. Thus the linen acquires 
a value form different from its physical form. The fact that it 
is value, is made manifest by its equality with the coat, just as 
the sheep s nature of a Christian is shown in his resemblance 
to the Lamb of God. 

We see, then, all that our analysis of the value of commo 
dities has already told us, is told us by the linen itself, so soon 
as it comes into communication with another commodity, the 
coat. Only it betrays its thoughts in that language with 
which alone it is familiar, the language of commodities. In 
order to tell us that its own value is created by labour in its 
abstract character of human labour, it says that the coat, in so 
far as it is worth as much as the linen, and therefore is value, 
consists 01 the same labour as the linen. In order to inform 
us that its sublime reality as value is not the same as its buek- 
ram body, it says that value has the appearance of a coat, and 
consequently that so far as the linen is value, it and the coat 
are as like as two \ eas. We may here remark, that the Ian- 



guage of commodities has, besides Hebrew, many othei more or 
less correct dialects. The German " werthsein," to be worth, 
for instance, expresses in a less striking manner than the 
Komance verbs " valere," " valer," " valoir," that the equating of 
commodity B to commodity A, is commodity A s own. mode of 
expressing its value. Paris vaut bien une messe. 

By means, therefore, of the value relation expressed in our 
equation, the bodily form of commodity B becomes the value 
form of commodity A, or the body of commodity B acts as a 
mirror to the value of commodity A. 1 By putting itself in re 
lation with commodity B, as value in proprid persona, as the 
matter of which human labour is made up, the commodity A 
converts the value in use, B, into the substance in which to 
express its, A s, own value. The value of A, thus expressed in 
the use-value of B, has taken the form of relative value. 

(b.) Quantitative determination of Relative value. 

Every commodity, whose value it is intended to express, is a 
useful object of given quantity, as 15 bushels of corn, or 100 
Ibs. of coffee. And a given quantity of any commodity con 
tains a definite quantity of human labour. The value-form 
must therefore not only express value generally, but also value 
in definite quantity. Therefore, in the value relation of com 
modity A to commodity B, of the linen to the coat, not only is 
the latter, as value in general, made the equal in quality of the 
linen, but a definite quantity of coat (1 coat) is made the 
equivalent of a definite quantity (20 yards) of linen. 

The equation, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or 20 yards of linen 
are worth one coat, implies that the same quantity of value- 
substance (congealed labour) is embodied in both ; that the 
two commodities have each cost the same amount of labour or 
the same quantity of labour time. But the labour time 
necessary for the production of 20 yards of linen or 1 coat 

In a sort of way, it is with man as with commodities. Since he comes into the 
world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtian philosopher, to whom 
I am I " is sufficient, man first sees and recognises himself in other men. Peter only 
establishes his own identity as a man by first comparing himself with Paul as being 
of like kind. And thereby Paul, just as he stands in his Pauline personality, be- 
eornes to Peter the type of the genus homo. 

22 Capitalist Production. 

varies with every change in the productiveness of weaving OF 
tailoring. We have now to consider the influence of such 
changes on the quantitative aspect of the relative expression of 

I. Let the value of the linen vary, 1 that of the coat remaining 
constant. If, say in consequence of the exhaustion of flax- 
growing soil, the labour time necessary for the production of 
the linen be doubled, the value of the linen will also be doubled 
Instead of the equation, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, we should 
have 20 yards of linen ==: 2 coats, since 1 coat would now con 
tain only half the labour time embodied in 20 yards of linen. 
If, on the other hand, in consequence, say, of improved looms, 
this labour time be reduced by one half, the value of the linen 
would fall by one half. Consequently, we should have 20 
yards of linen = J coat. The relative value of commodity A, 
i.e., its value expressed in commodity B, rises and falls directly 
as the value of A, the value of B being supposed constant. 

II. Let the value of the linen remain constant, while the 
value of the coat varies. If, under these circumstances, in 
consequence, for instance, of a poor crop of wool, the labour 
time necessary for the production of a coat becomes doubled, 
we have instead of 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, 20 yards of linen 
= J coat. If, on the other hand, the value of the coat sinks 
by one half, then 20 yards of linen = 2 coats. Hence, if the* 
value of commodity A remain constant, its relative value ex 
pressed in commodity B rises and falls inversely as the valu 
of B. 

If we compare the different cases in I. and II., we see that 
the same change of magnitude in relative value may arise from 
totally opposite causes. Thus, the equation, 20 yards of linen 
= 1 coat, becomes 20 yards of linen = 2 coats, either, because, 
the value of the linen has doubled, or because the value of the 
coat has fallen by one half ; and it becomes 20 yaids of linen 
= \ coat, either, because the value of the linen has fallen by 
one half, or because the value of the coat has doubled. 

III. Let the quantities of labour time respectively neces- 

i Value is here, as occasionally in the preceding pages, used in the sense of 
determined as to quantity* or of magnitude of value. 

Comm odities. 2 3 

sary for the production of the linen and the coat vary sim 
ultaneously in the same direction and in the same proportion. 
In this case 20 yards of linen continue equal to 1 coat, however 
much their values may have altered. Their change of value is 
seen as soon as they are compared with a third commodity, 
whose value has remained constant. If the values of all com 
modities rose or fell simultaneously, and in the same proportion, 
their relative values would remain unaltered. Their real 
change of value would appear from the diminished or increased 
quantity of commodities produced in a given time. 

IV. The labour time respectively necessary for the produc 
tion of the linen and the coat, and therefore the value of theso 
commodities may simultaneously vary in the same direction, 
but at unequal rates, or in opposite directions, or in other 
ways. The effect of all these possible different variations, on 
the relative value of a commodity, may be deduced from the 
results of I., II., and III. 

Thus real changes in the magnitude of value are neither 
unequivocally nor exhaustively reflected in their relative 
expression, that is, in the equation expressing the magnitude 
of relative value. The relative value of a commodity may 
vary, although its value remains constant. Its relative value 
may remain constant, although its value varies; and finally, 
simultaneous variations in the magnitude of values and in that 
of its relative expression by no means necessarily correspond 
in amount. * 

1 This incongruity between the magnitude of value and its relative expression has, 
with customary ingenuity, been exploited by vulgar economists. For example 
"Once admit that A falls, because B, with which it is exchanged, rises, while no less 
labour is bestowed in the meantime on A, and your general principle of value falls to 
the ground. . . . If he [Ricardo] allowed that when A rises in value relatively to 
B, B falls in value relatively to A, he cut away the ground on which he rested his 
grand proposition, that the value of a commodity is ever determined by the labour 
embodied in it ; for if a change in the cost of A alters not only its own value In rela 
tion to B, for which it is exchanged, but also the value of B relatively to that of A, 
though no change has taken place in the quantity of labour to produce B, then not 
only the doctrine falls to the ground which asserts that the quantity of labour 
bestowed on an article regulates its value, but also that which affirms the cost of an 
article to regulate its value." (J. Broadhurst: Political Economy, London, 1842, p. 11 
and 14.) 

Mr. Broadhurst might just as well say : consider the fractions -, $, -^fa, &c., 
the number 10 remains unchanged, and yet its proportional magnitude, its magnitude 
, ... d 

24 Capitalist Production. 

"3. The Equivalent form of value. 

We have seen that commodity A (the linen), by expressing 
its value in the use- value of a commodity differing in kind 
(the coat), at the same time impresses upon the latter a specific 
form of value, namely that of the equivalent. The commodity 
linen manifests its quality of having a value by the fact that 
the coat, without having assumed a value form different from 
its bodily form, is equated to the linen. The fact that the 
latter therefore has a value is expressed by saying that the 
coat is directly exchangeable with it. Therefore, when we say 
that a commodity is in the equivalent form, we express the 
fact that it is directly exchangeable with other commodities. 

When one commodity, such as a coat, serves as the equivalent 
of another, such as linen, and coats consequently acquire the 
characteristic property of being directly exchangeable with 
linen, we are far from knowing in what proportion the two are 
exchangeable. The value of the linen being given in magni 
tude, that proportion depends on the value of the coat. 
\Yhether the coat serves as the equivalent and the linen as 
relative value, or the linen as the equivalent and the coat as 
relative value, the magnitude of the coat s value is determined, 
independently of its value form, by the labour time necessary 
for its production. But whenever the coat assumes in the 
equation of value, the position of equivalent, its value acquires 
no quantitative expression ; on the contrary, the commodity 
coat now figures only as a definite quantity of some article. 

For instance, 40 yards of linen are worth what ? 2 coats. 
Because the commodity coat here plays the part of equivalent, 
because the use-value cc at, as opposed to the linen, figures as 
an embodiment of value, therefore a definite number of coats 
suffices to express the definite quantity of value in the linen. 
Two coats may therefore express the quantity of value of 40 
yards of linen, but they can never express the quantity of their 
own value. A superficial observation of this fact, namely, tit at 

relatively to the numbers 20, 50, 100, &c., continually diminishes. Therefore the 
great principle that the magnitude of a whole number, such as 10, is " regulated " by 
the number of times unity is contained in it, falls to the ground. [The aut-hor ex 
plains in section 4 of this chapter, p, 52, note 2, what he understands by "Vulgar 
Economy." Ed. j 

Commodities. 25 

in the equation of value, the equivalent figures exclusively as 
a simple quantity of some article, of some use-value, has misled 
Bailey, as also many others, both before and after him, into 
seeing, in the expression of value, merely a quantitative relation. 
The truth being, that when a commodity acts as equivalent, 
no quantitative determination of its value is expressed. 

The first peculiarity that strikes us, in considering the form 
of the equivalent, is this : use- value becomes the form of mani 
festation, the phenomenal form of its opposite, value. 

The bodily form of the commodity becomes its value form. 
But, mark well, that this quid pro quo exists in the case of any 
commodity B, only when some other commodity A enters into 
a value relation with it, and then only within the limits of this 
relation. Since no commodity can stand in the relation of 
equivalent to itself, and thus turn its own bodily shape into 
the expression of its own value, every commodity is compelled 
to choose some other commodity for its equivalent, and to accept 
the use-value, that is to say, the bodily shape of that other 
commodity as the form of its own value. 

One of the measures that we apply to commodities as material 
substances, as use-values, will serve to illustrate this point. A 
sugar-loaf being a body, is heavy, and therefore has weight : 
but we can neither see nor touch this weight. We then take 
various pieces of iron, whose weight has been determined 
beforehand. The iron, as iron, is no more the form of manifes 
tation of weight, than is the sugar-loaf. Nevertheless, in order 
to express the sugar-loaf as so much weight, we put it into a 
weight-relation with the iron. In this relation, the iron 
officiates as a body representing nothing but weight. A certain 
quantity of iron therefore serves as the measure of the weight 
of the sugar, and represents, in relation to the sugar-loaf, 
weight embodied, the form of manifestation of weight. This 
part is played by the iron only within this relation, into which 
ths sugar or any other body, whose weight has to be determined, 
enters with the iron. Were they not both heavy, they could 
not enter into this relation, and the one could therefore not 
serve as the expression of the weight of the other. When we 
throw both into the scales, we see in reality, that as weight 

26 Capitalist Production. 

they are both the same, and that, therefore, when taken in 
proper proportions, they have the same weight. Just as the 
substance iron, as a measure of weight, represents in relation 
to the sugar-loaf weight alone, so, in our expression of value, 
the material object, coat, in relation to the linen, represents 
value alone. 

Here, however, the analogy ceases. The iron, in the ex 
pression of the weight of the sugar-loaf, represents a natural pro 
perty common to both bodies, namely their weight; but the coat r 
in the expression of value of the linen, represents a non-natural 
property of both, something purely social, namely, their value. 

Since the relative form of value of a commodity the linen, 
for example expresses the value of that commodity, as being 
something wholly different from its substance and properties, 
as being, for instance, coat-like, we see that this expression 
itself indicates that some social relation lies at the bottom of 
it. With the equivalent form it is just the contrary. The very 
essence of this form is that the material commodity itself the 
coat just as it is, expresses value, and is endowed with the 
form of value by Nature itself. Of course this holds good only 
so long as the value relation exists, in which the coat stands in 
the position of equivalent to the linen. 1 Since, however, the 
properties of a thing are not the result of its relations to other 
things, but only manifest themselves in such relations, the 
coat seems to be endowed with its equivalent form, its property 
of being directly exchangeable, just as much by Nature as it is 
endowed with the property of being heavy, or the capacity to 
keep us warm. Hence the enigmatical character of the equiva 
lent form which escapes the notice of the bourgeois political 
economist, until this form, completely developed, confronts him 
in the shape of money. He then seeks to explain away the 
mystical character of gold and silver, by substituting for them 
less dazzling commodities, and by reciting, with ever renewed 
satisfaction, the catalogue of all possible commodities which at 
one time or another have played the part of equivalent. He has 

1 Such expressions of relations in general, called by Hegel reflex-categories, form a 
very curious class. For instance, one man is king only because other men stand in 
the relation of subjects to him. They, on the contrary, imagine that they are sub- 
lects because he is king. 

Commodities. 2 7 

not the least suspicion that the most simple expression of value, 
such as 20 yds. of linen == 1 coat, already propounds the riddle 
of the equivalent form for our solution. 

The body of the commodity that serves as the equivalent, 
figures as the materialisation of human labour in the abstract, 
and is at the same time the product of some specifically useful 
concrete labour. This concrete labour becomes, therefore, the 
medium for expressing abstract human labour. If on the 
one hand the coat ranks as nothing but the embodiment of 
abstract human labour, so, on the other hand, the tailoring 
which is actually embodied in it, counts as nothing but the 
form under which that abstract labour is realised. In the ex 
pression of value of the linen, the utility of the tailoring con 
sists, not in making clothes, but in making an object, which we 
at once recognise to be Value, and therefore to be a congelation 
of labour, but of labour indistinguishable from that realised in 
the value of the linen. Tn order to act as such a mirror ^of 
value, the labour of tailoring must reflect nothing besides its 
own abstract quality of being human labour generally. 

In tailoring, as well as in weaving, human labour-power is 

expended. Both, therefore, possess the general property of 

being human labour, and may, therefore, in certain cases, such 

as in the production of value, have to be considered under 

this aspect alone. There is nothing mysterious in this. But 

in the expression of value there is a complete turn of the 

tables. For instance, how is the fact to be expressed that 

weaving creates the value of the linen, not by virtue of being 

weaving, as such, but by reason of its general property of being 

human labour ? Simply by opposing to weaving that other 

particular form of concrete labour (in this instance tailoring), 

which produces the equivalent of the product of weaving. 

Just as the coat in its bodily form became a direct expression 

of value, so now does tailoring, a concrete form of labour, 

appear as the direct and palpable embodiment of human labour 


Hence, the second peculiarity of the equivalent form is, that 
concrete labour becomes the form under which its opposite, 
abstract human labour, manifests itself. 

28 Capitalist Production. 

But because this concrete labour, tailoring in our ca*e, ranks 
as, and is directly identified with, undifferentiated human 
labour, it also ranks as identical with any other sort of labour, 
and therefore with that embodied in the linen. Consequently, 
although, like all other commodity-producing labour, it is the 
labour of private individuals, yet, at the same time, it ranks as 
labour directly social in its character. This is the reason why 
it results in a product directly exchangeable with other com 
modities. We have then a third peculiarity of the Equivalent 
form, namely, that the labour of private individuals takes the 
form of its opposite, labour directly social in its form. 

The two latter peculiarities of the Equivalent form will 
become more intelligible if we go back to the great thinker 
who was the first to analyse so many forms, whether of 
thought, society, or nature, and amongst them also the form of 
value. I mean Aristotle. 

In the first place, he clearly enunciates that the money form 
of commodities is only the further development of the simple 
form of value i.e., of the expression of the value of one com 
modity in some other commodity taken at random; for he says 
5 beds = 1 house (xx;< rin < <//?) is not to be 

distinguished from 
5 beds = so much money. 

(*X/MU srtvTi dvrl . . . erau at sr/yri nXivxi) 

He further sees that the value relation which gives rise to 
this expression makes it necessary that the house should quali 
tatively be made the equal of the bed, and that, without such 
an equalisation, these two clearly different things could not be 
compared with each other as commensurable quantities, " Ex 
change," he says, "cannot take place without equality, and 
equality not without commensurability " (OUT Mm p & 
ruftfttrfiee). Here, however, he comes to a stop, and gives 
up the further analysis of the form of value. " It is, 
however, in reality, impossible ( ^i 5 AJ&; 2vW0), that 
such unlike things can be commensurable " i.e., qualita 
tively equal. Such an equalisation can only be something 
foreign to their real nature, consequently only "a make-shift 
for practical purposes.* 

Com modi ties. 2 9 

Aristotle therefore, himself, tells us, what barred the way to 
his further analysis ; it was the absence of an} concept of 
value. What is that equal something, that common substance, 
which admits of the value of the beds being expressed by a 
house ? Such a thing, in truth, cannot exist, says Aristotle. 
And why not ? Compared with bhe beds, the house does re 
present something equal to them, in so far as it represents what 
is really equal, both in the beds and the house. And that is 
human labour. 

There was, however, an important fact which prevented 
Aristotle from seeing that, to attribute value to commodities, is 
merely a mode of expressing all labour as equal human labour, 
and consequently as labour of equal quality. Greek society 
was founded upon slavery, and had, therefore, for its natural 
basis, the inequality of men and of their labour powers. The 
secret of the expression of value, namely, that all kinds of 
labour are equal and equivalent, because, and so far as they 
are human labour in general, cannot be deciphered, until the 
notion of human equality has already acquired the fixity of a 
popular prejudice. This, however, is possible only in a society 
in which the great mass of the produce of labour takes the form 
of commodities, in which, consequently, the dominant relation 
between man and man, is that of owners of commodities. The 
brilliancy of Aristotle s genius is shown by this alone, that he 
discovered, in the expression of the value of commodities, a 
relation of equality. The peculiar conditions of the society in 
which he lived, alone prevented him from discovering what,. 
" in truth," was at the bottom of this equality. 

4. The Elementary form of value considered as a whole. 

The elementary form of value of a commodity is contained 
in the equation, expressing its value relation to another com 
modity of a different kind, or in its exchange relation to the 
same. The value of commodity A, is qualitatively expressed, 
by the fact that commodity B is directly exchangeable with it. 
Its value is quantitatively expressed by the fact, that a definite 
quantity of B is exchangeable with a definite quantity of A, 
In other words, the value of a commodity obtains independent 

30 Capitalist Production. 

and definite expression, by taking the form of exchange value. 
When, at the beginning of this chapter, we said, in common 
parlance, that a commodity is both a use-value and an ex 
change value, we were, accurately speaking, wrong. A com 
modity is a use-value or object of utility, and a value. It 
manifests itself as this two-fold thing, that it is, as soon as its 
Talue assumes an independent form viz., the form of exchange 
value. It never assumes this form when isolated, but only 
when placed in a value or exchange relation with another 
commodity of a different kind. When once we know this, 
such a mode of expression does no harm ; it simply serves as 
an abbreviation. 

Our analysis has shown, that the form or expression of the 
value of a commodity originates in the nature of value, and 
not that value and its magnitude originate in the mode of 
their expression as exchange value. This, however, is the 
delusion as well of the mercantilists and their recent revivors, 
Ferrier, Ganilh, 1 and others, as also of their antipodes, the 
modern bagmen of Free Trade, such as Bastiat. The mercan 
tilists lay special stress on the qualitative aspect of the 
expression of value, and consequently on the equivalent form 
of commodities, which attains its full perfection in money. 
The modern hawkers of Free Trade, who must get rid of their 
article at any price, on the other hand, lay most stress on the 
quantitative aspect of the relative form of value. For them 
there consequently exists neither value, nor magnitude of 
value, anywhere except in its expression by means of the 
exchange relation of commodities, that is, in the daily list of 
prices current. MacLeod, who has taken upon himself to 
dress up the confused ideas of Lombard Street in the most 
learned finery, is a successful cross between the superstitious 
mercantilists, and the enlightened Free Trade bagmen. 

A close scrutiny of the expression of the value of A in terms 
of B, contained in the equation expressing the value relation of 
A to B, has shown us that, within that relation, the bodily form 

1 F. L. A. Ferrier, sous-inspecteur des douanes, " Du gouvernemeut conside re dans 
*es rapports avec le commerce," Paris, 1805; and Charles Ganilh, "Des Systemes 
d Economie politique," 2nd ed., Paris, 1S21. 

Commodities. 3 1 

of A figures only as a use-value, the bodily form of B only as 
the form or aspect of value. The opposition or contrast 
existing internally in each commodity between use- value and 
value, is, therefore, made evident externally by two com 
modities being placed in such relation to each other, that the 
commodity whose value it is sought to express, figures directly 
as a mere use-value, while the commodity in which that value 
is to be expressed, figures directly as mere exchange value. 
Hence the elementary form of value of a commodity is the 
elementary form in which the contrast contained in that 
commodity, between use-value and value, becomes apparent. 

Every product of labour is, in all states of society, a use- 
value ; but it is only at a definite historical epoch in a society s 
development that such a product becomes a commodity, viz., 
at the epoch when the labour spent on the production of a 
useful article becomes expressed as one of the objective 
qualities of that article, i.e., as its value. It therefore follows 
that the elementary value-form is also the primitive form 
under which a product of labour appears historically as a 
commodity, and that the gradual transformation of such 
products into commodities, proceeds pari passu with the 
development of the value form. 

We perceive, at first sight, the deficiencies of the elementary 
form of value : it is a mere germ, which must undergo a series 
of metamorphoses before it can ripen into the Price-form. 

The expression of the value of commodity A in terms of any 
other commodity B, merely distinguishes the value from the 
use- value of A, and therefore places A merely in a relation of 
exchange with a single different commodity, B ; but it is still 
far from expressing A s qualitative equality, and quantitative 
proportionality, to all commodities. To the elenie itary relative 
value-form of a commodity, there corresponds the single equi 
valent form of one other commodity. Thus, in the relative 
expression of value of the linen, the coat assumes the form of 
equivalent, or of being directly exchangeable, only in relation 
to a single commodity, the linen. 

Nevertheless, the elementary form of value passes by an easy 
transition into a more complete form. It is true that I y means 

32 Capitalist Production. 

of the elementary form, the value of a commodity A, becomes 
expressed in terms of one, and only one, other commodity 
But that one may be a commodity of any kind, coat, iron, corn 
or anything else. Therefore, according as A is placed in rela 
tion with one or the other, we get for one and the same com 
modity, different elementary expressions of value. 1 The number 
of such possible expressions is limited only by the number of 
the different kinds of commodities distinct from it. The 
isolated expression of A s value, is therefore convertible into a 
series, prolonged to any length, of the different elementary ex 
pressions of that value. 

E. Total or Expanded form of value. 

z Com. A=u Com. B or=v Com. C or=w Com. D or=x Com. 

E or=&c. 

(20 yards of linen=l coat or=10 Ifo tea or=40 fb coffee or= 
1 quarter corn or=2 ounces gold or=| ton iron or=&c.) 

1. The Expanded Relative form of value. 

The value of a single commodity, the linen, for example, is 
now expressed in terms of numberless other elements of the 
world of commodities. Every other commodity now becomes 
a mirror of the linen s value. 2 It is thus, that for the first time, 

1 In Homer, for instance, the value of an article is expressed in a series of different 
tilings. II. VII. 472-475. 

2 For this reason, we can speak of the coat-value of the linen when its value is ex 
pressed in coats, or of its corn-value when expressed in corn, and so on. Every such 
expression tells us, that what appears in the use-values, coat, corn, &c., is the value 
of the linen. " The value of any commodity denoting its relation in exchange, we 
may speak of it as ... corn-value, cloth-value, according to the commodity with 
which it is compared ; and hence there are a thousand different kinds of value, as many 
kinds of value as there are commodities in existence, and all are equally real and 
equally nominal." (A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measure and Causes of 
Value : chiefly in reference to the writings of Mr. Ricardo and his followers. By the 
author of "Essays on the Formation, &c., of Opinions." London, 1825, p. 39). S. 
Bailey, the author of this anonymous work, a work which in its day created much 
stir in England, fancied that, by thus pointing out the various relative expressions of 
one and the same value, hB had proved the impossibility of any determination of the 
concept of value. However narrow his own views may have been, yet, that he Ir id 
his finger on some serious defects in the Ricardian Theory, is proved by the aniinosity 
with which he was attacked by Ricardo s followers. See the Westminster Review for 

Commodities * i 

\j <j 

this value shows itself in its true light as a congelation of un- 
differentiated human labour. For the labour that creates it, 
now stands expressly revealed, as labour that ranks equally 
with every other sort of human labour, no matter what its 
form, whether tailoring, ploughing, mining, &c., and no matter, 
therefore, whether it is realised in coats, corn, iron, or gold. 
The linen, by virtue of the form of its value, now stands in a 
social relation, no longer with only one other kind of com 
modity, but with the whole world of commodities. As a 
commodity, it is a citizen of that world. At the same time, 
the interminable series of value equations implies, that as re 
gards the value of a commodity, it is a matter of in 
difference under what particular form, or kind, of use-value it 

In the first form, 20 yds. of linen = 1 coat, it might, for ought 
that otherwise appears, be pure accident, that these two com 
modities are exchangeable in definite quantities. In the second 
form, on the contrary, we perceive at once the background that 
determines, and is essentially different from, this accidental 
appearance. The value of the linen remains unaltered in mag 
nitude, whether expressed in coats, coffee, or iron, or in num 
berless different commodities, the property of as many 
different owners. The accidental relation between two in 
dividual commodity-owners disappears. It becomes plain, that 
it is not the exchange of commodities which regulates the 
magnitude of their value ; but, on the contrary, that it is the 
magnitude of their value which controls their exchange 

2. The particular Equivalent form. 

Each commodity, such as, coat, tea, corn, iron, &c., figures in 
the expression of value of the linen, as an equivalent, and, con 
sequently, as a thing that is value. The bodily form of each 
of these commodities figures now as a particular equivalent 
form, one out of many. In the same way the manifold concrete 
useful kinds of labour, embodied in these different commodities, 
rank now as so many different forms of the realisation, or mani 
festation, of undifferentiated human labour. 

34 Capitalist Production, 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded form of value. 

In the first place, the relative expression of value is incomplete 
because the series representing it is interminable. The chain 
of which each equation of value is a link, is liable at any 
moment to be lengthened by each new kind of commodity that 
comes into existence and furnishes the material for a fresh 
expression of value. In the second place, it is a many- 
coloured mosaic of disparate and independent expressions 
of value. And lastly, if, as must be the case, the relative value 
of each commodity in turn, becomes expressed in this ex 
panded form, we get for each of them a relative value-form, 
different in every case, and consisting of an interminable 
series of expressions of value. The defects of the expanded 
relative-value form are reflected in the corresponding equiva 
lent form. Since the bodily form of each single commodity is 
one particular equivalent form amongst numberless others, we 
have, on the whole, nothing but fragmentary equivalent forms, 
each excluding the others. In the same way, also, the special, 
concrete, useful kind of labour embodied in each particular 
equivalent, is presented only as a particular kind of labour, 
and therefore not as an exhaustive representative of human 
labour generally. The latter, indeed, gains adequate manifes 
tation in the totality of its manifold, particular, concrete forms. 
But, in that case, its expression in an infinite series is ever 
incomplete and deficient in unity. 

The expanded relative value-form is, however, nothing but 
the sum of the elementary relative expressions or equations of 
the first kind, such as 

20 yards of linen = 1 coat 

20 yards of linen = 10 Ibs. of tea, etc. 

Each of these implies the corresponding inverted equation, 

1 coat = 20 yards of linen 
10 Ibs. of tea == 20 yards of linen, etc. 

In fact, when a person exchanges his linen for many other 
commodities, and thus expresses its value in a series of other 
commodities, it necessarily follows, that the various owners of 
the latter exchange them for the linen, and consequently express 

Commodities. 35 

the value of their various commodities in one and the same 
third commodity, the linen. If then, we reverse the series, 20 
yards of linen = 1 coat or = 10 Ibs. of tea, etc., that is to say, 
if we give expression to the converse relation already implied 
in the series, we get, 

G. The General form of value. 
1 coat 

10 Ibs. of tea 
40 Ibs. of coffee 

1 quarter of corn 

2 ounces of gold 
J a ton of iron 
x com. A., etc. 

= 20 yards of linen 

1. The altered character of the form of value. 

All commodities now express their value (1) in an elementary 
form, because in a single commodity ; (2) with unity, because in 
one and the same commodity. This form of value is elementary 
and the same for all, therefore general. 

The forms A and B were fit only to express the value of a 
commodity as something distinct from its use-value or material 

The first form, A, furnishes such equations as the following : 
1 coat = 20 yards of linen, 10 Ibs. of tea = J ton of iron. 
The value of the coat is equated to linen, that of the tea to 
iron. But to be equated to linen, and again to iron, is to be as 
different as are linen and iron. This form, it is plain, occurs 
practically only in the first beginning, when the products of 
labour are converted into commodities by accidental and 
occasional exchanges. 


The second form, B, distinguishes, in a more adequate manner 
than the first, the value of a commodity from its use- value ; for 
the value of the coat is there placed in contrast under all 
possible shapes with the bodily form of the coat ; it is equated 
to linen, to iron, to tea, in short, to everything else, only not to 
itself, the coat. On the other hand, any general expression of 
value common to all is directly excluded ; for, in the equation 
of value of each commodity, all other commodities now appear 

36 Capitalist Production. 

only under the form of equivalents. The expanded form of 
value comes into actual existence for the first time so soon as 
a particular product of labour, such as cattle, is no longer 
exceptionally, but habitually, exchanged for various other 

The third and lastly developed form expresses the values of 
the whole world of commodities in terms of a single commodity 
set apart for the purpose, namely, the linen, and thus represents 
to us their values by means of their equality with linen. The 
value of every commodity is now, by being equated to linen, 
not only differentiated from its own use- value, but from all 
other use-values generally, and is, by that very fact, expressed 
as that which is common to all commodities. By this form, 
commodities are, for the first time, effectively brought into- 
relation with one another as values, or made to appear as 
exchange values. 

The two earlier forms either express the value of each com 
modity in terms of a single commodity of a different kind, or 
in a series of many such commodities. In both cases, it is, so 
to say, the special business of each single commodity to find an 
expression for its value, and this it does without the help of 
the others. These others, with respect to the former, play the 
passive parts of equivalents. The general form of value, C, 
results from the joint action of the whole world of commodities^ 
and from that alone. A commodity can acquire a general expres 
sion of its value only by all other commodities, simultaneously 
with it, expressing their values in the same equivalent ; and 
every new commodity must follow suit. It thus becomes 
evident that, since the existence of commodities as values is 
purely social, this social existence can be expressed by the, 
totality of their social relations alone, and consequently 
that the form of their value must be a socially recognised 

All commodities being equated to linen now appear not only 
as qualitatively equal as values generally, but also as values 
whose magnitudes are capable of comparison. By expressing 
the magnitudes of their values in one and the same material, 
the linen, those magnitudes are also compared with each other. 

Commodities. 37 

For instance, 10 Ibs. of tea = 20 yards of linen, and 40 Ibs. of 
coffee = 20 yards of linen. Therefore, 10 Ibs. of tea = 40 Ibs. 
of coffee. In other words, there is contained in 1 Ib. of coffee 
only one-fourth as much substance of value labour as is con 
tained in 1 Ib. of tea. 

The general form of relative value, embracing the whole 
world of commodities, converts the single commodity that is 
-excluded from the rest, and made to play the part of equivalent 
here the linen into the universal equivalent. The bodily 
form of the linen is now the form assumed in common by the 
values of all commodities ; it therefore becomes directly 
exchangeable with all and every of them. The substance 
linen becomes the visible incarnation, the social chrysalis state 
of every kind of human labour. Weaving, which is the labour 
of certain private individuals producing a particular article, linen, 
acquires in consequence a social character, the character of 
equality with all other kinds of labour. The innumerable 
equations of which the general form of value is composed, 
equate in turn the labour embodied in the linen to that em 
bodied in every other commodity, and they thus convert 
weaving into the general form of manifestation of undiffer- 
entiated human labour. In this manner the labour realised in 
the values of commodities is presented not only under its 
negative aspect, under which abstraction is made from every 
concrete form and useful property of actual work, but 
its own positive nature is made to reveal itself expressly. 
The general value-form is the reduction of all kinds of 
actual labour to their common character of being human 
labour generally, of being the expenditure of human labour 

The general value form, which represents all products of 
labour as mere congelations of undifferentiated human labour, 
shows by its very structure that it is the social resume of the 
world of commodities. That form consequently makes it 
indisputably evident that in the world of commodities the 
character possessed by all labour of being human labour 
constitutes its specific social character. 

38 Capitalist Production 

2. The interdependent development of the Relative form of value, 

and of the Equivalent form. 

The degree of development of the relative form of value 
corresponds to that of the equivalent form. But we must bear 
in mind that the development of the latter is only the expres 
sion and result of the development of the former. 

The primary or isolated relative form of value of one 
commodity converts some other commodity into an isolated 
equivalent. The expanded form of relative value, which is the 
expression of the value of one commodity in terms of all other 
commodities, endows those other commodities with the character 
of particular equivalents differing in kind. And lastly, a 
particular kind of commodity acquires the character of 
universal equivalent, because all other commodities make it the 
material in which they uniformly express their value. 

The antagonism between the relative form of value and the 
equivalent form, the two poles of the value form, is developed 
concurrently with that form itself. 

The first form, 20 yds. of linen = one coat, already contains 
this antagonism, without as yet fixing it. According as we 
read this equation forwards or backwards, the parts played by 
the linen and the coat are different. In the one case the 
relative value of the linen is expressed in the coat, in the 
other case the relative value of the coat is expressed in the- 
linen. In this first form of value, therefore, it is difficult to- 
grasp the polar contrast. 

Form B shows that only one single commodity at a time can 
completely expand its relative value, and that it acquires this 
expanded form only because, and in so far as, all other com 
modities are, with respect to it, equivalents. Here we cannot 
reverse the equation, as we can the equation 20 yds. of linen = 
1 coat, without altering its general character, and converting 
it from the expanded form of value into the general form of 

Finally, the form C gives to the world of commodities a 
general social relative form of value, because, and in so far as, 
thereby all commodities, with the exception of one, are excluded 

Commodities. 39 

from the equivalent form. A single commodity, the linen, 
appears therefore to have acquired the character of direct ex 
changeability with every other commodity because, and in so 
far as, this character is denied to every other commodity. 1 

The commodity that figures as universal equivalent, is, on 
the other hand, excluded from the relative value form. If the 
linen, or any other commodity serving as universal equivalent, 
were, at the same time, to share in the relative form of value, 
it would have to serve as its own equivalent. We should then 
have 20 yds. of linen = 20 yds. of linen ; this tautology ex 
presses neither value, nor magnitude of value. In order to 
express the relative value of the universal equivalent, we must 
rather reverse the form C. This equivalent has no relative 
form of value in common with other commodities, but its value 
is relatively expressed by a never ending series of other com 
modities. Thus, the expanded form of relative value, or form 
B, now shows itself as the specific form of relative value for the 
equivalent commodity. 

3. Transition from the General form of value to the 

Money form. 

The universal equivalent form is a form of value in general. 
It can, therefore, be assumed by any commodity. On the 
other hand, if a commodity be found to have assumed the 
universal equivalent form (form C), this is only because and 

1 It is by no means self-evident that this character of direct and universal ex 
changeability is, so to speak, a polar one, and as intimately connected with its opposite 
pole, the absence of direct exchangeability, as the positive pole of the magnet is with 
its negative counterpart. It may therefore be imagined that all commodities can 
simultaneously have this character impressed upon them, just as it can be imagined 
that all Catholics can be popes together. It is, of course, highly desirable in the eyes 
of the petit bourgeois, for whom the production of commodities is the ne plus ultra 
of human freedom and individual independence, that the inconveniences resulting 
from thit character of commodities not being directly exchangeable, should be re 
moved. Proudhon s socialism is a working out of this Philistine Utopia, a form of 
socialism which, as I have elsewhere shown, does not possess even the merit of origin 
ality. Long before his time, the task was attempted with much better success by 
Gray, Bray, and others. But, for all that, wisdom of this kind flourishes even now 
in certain circles under the name of "science." Never has any school played more 
tricks with the word science, than that of Proudhon, for 

" wo Begriffe fehlen 
Da stellt zur rechten Zeit ein Wort sich ein." 

40 Capitalist Production. 

in so far as it has been excluded from the rest of all other 
commodities as their equivalent, and that by their own act. 
And from the moment that this exclusion becomes finally 
restricted to one particular commodity, from that moment only, 
the general form of relative value of the world of commodities 
obtains real consistence and general social validity. 

The particular commodity, with whose bodily form the 
equivalent form is thus socially identified, now becomes the 
money commodity, or serves as money. It becomes the special 
social function of that commodity, and consequently its social 
monopoly, to play within the world of commodities the part of 
the universal equivalent. Amongst the commodities which, in 
form B, figure as particular equivalents of the linen, and, in 
form C, express in common their relative values in linen, this 
foremost place has been attained by one in particular namely, 
gold. If, then, in form C we replace the linen by gold, we 

D. The Money form. 

20 yards of linen = 

1 coat = 

10 ft> ol tea 

40 lb of coffee = 

1 qr. of corn = 

| a ton of iron = 

x commodity A = 

2 ounces of gold. 

In passing from form A to form B, and from the latter to 
form C, the changes are fundamental. On the other hand, 
there is no difference between forms C and D, except that, in 
the latter, gold has assumed the equivalent form in the place 
of linen. Gold is in form D, what linen was in form C the 
universal equivalent. The progress consists in this alone, that 
the character of direct and universal exchangeability in other 
words, that the universal equivalent form has now, by social 
custom, become finally identified with the substance, gold. 

Gold is now money with reference to all other commodities 
only because it was previously, with reference to them, a 
simple commodity. Like all other commodities, it was also 

Commodities. 4 1 

capable of serving as an equivalent, either as simple equivalent 
in isolated exchanges, or as particular equivalent by the side 
of others. Gradually it began to serve, within varying limits, 
as universal equivalent. So soon as it monopolises this posi 
tion in the expression of value for the world of commodities, 
it becomes the money commodity, and then, and not till then, 
does form D become distinct from form C, and the general 
form of value become changed into the money form. 

The elementary expression of the relative value of a single 
commodity, such as linen, in terms of the commodity, such as 
gold, that plays the part of money, is the price form of that 
commodity. The price form of the linen is therefore 

20 yards of linen = 2 ounces of gold, or, if 2 ounces of gold 
when coined are 2, 20 yards of linen = 2. 

The difficulty in forming a concept of the money form, con 
sists in clearly comprehending the universal equivalent form, 
and as a necessary corollary, the general form of value, form C. 
The latter is deducible from form B, the expanded form of 
value, the essential component element of which, we saw, is 
form A, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat or x commodity A = y com 
modity B. The simple commodity form is therefore the germ 
of the money form. 


A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and 
easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a 
very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and 
theological niceties. So far as it is a value in use, there is 
nothing mysterious about it, whether we consider it from the 
point of view that by its properties it is capable of satisfying 
human wants, or from the point that those properties are the 
product of human labour. It is as clear as noon-day, that man, 
by his industry, changes the forms of the materials furnished 
by nature, in such a way as to make them useful to him. The 
form of wood, for instance, is altered, by making a table out of 
it. Yet, for all that the table continues to be that common, 

42 Capitalist Production. 

every-day thing, wood. But, so soon as it steps forth as a 
commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It not 
only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all 
other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its 
wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than " table- 
turning " ever was. 

The mystical character of commodities does not originate, 
therefore, in their use-value. Just as little does it proceed from 
the nature of the determining factors of value. For, in the 
first place, however varied the useful kinds of labour, or pro 
ductive activities, may be, it is a physiological fact, that they 
are functions of the human organism, and that each such func 
tion, whatever may te its nature or form, is essentially the ex 
penditure of human brain, nerves, muscles, &c. Secondly, with 
regard to that which forms the ground-work for the quantitative 
determination of value, namely, the duration of that expendi 
ture, or the quantity of labour, it is quite clear that there is a 
palpable difference between its quantity and quality. In all 
states of society, the labour-time that it costs to produce the 
means of subsistence, must necessarily be an object of interest 
to mankind, though not of equal interest in different stages of 
development 1 And lastly, from the moment that men in any 
way work for one another, their labour assumes a social form. 

Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product 
of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities ? 
Clearly from this form itself. The equality o all sorts of 
human labour is expressed objectively by their products all 
being equally values; the measure of the expenditure of labour- 
power by the duration of that expenditure, takes the form of 
the quantity of value of the products of labour ; and finally, 
the mutual relations of the producers, within which the social 
character of their labour affirms itself, take the form of a 
social relation between the products. 

A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because 
in it the social character of men s labour appears to them as an 

1 Among the ancient Germans the unit for measuring land was what could bo 
harvested in a day, and was called Tagwerk, Tagwanne (jurnale, or terra jurnalis, or 
diornalis), Mannsmaad, &c. (See G. L. von Maurer Einleitung zur Geschichte der 
Mark , c. Verfassung, Munchen, 1859, p. 129-59.) 

Commodities. 43 

objective character stamped upon the product of that labour; 
because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their 
own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing 
not between themselves, but between the products of their 
labour. This is the reason why the products of labour become 
commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time 
perceptible and imperceptible by the senses. In the same way 
the light from an object is perceived by us not as the subjective 
excitation of our optic nerve, but as the objective form of 
something outside the eye itself. But, in the act of seeing, 
there is at all events, an actual passage of light from one thing 
to another, from the external object to the eye. There is a 
physical relation between physical things. But it is different 
with commodities. There, the existence of the things qua 
commodities, and the value relation between the products of 
labour which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no 
connection with their physical properties and with the material 
relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite social rela 
tion between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic 
form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find 
an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions 
of the religious world. In that world the productions of the 
human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, 
and entering into relation both with one another and the human 
race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products 
of men s hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself 
to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as com 
modities, and which is therefore inseparable from the produc 
tion of commodities. 

This Fetishism of commodities has its origin, as the fore 
going analysis has already shown, in the peculiar social 
character of the labour that produces them. 

As a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, only 
because they are products of the labour of private individuals 
or groups of individuals who carry on their work independently 
of ea/?h other. The sum total of the labour of all these private 
individuals forms the aggregate labour of society. Since the 
producers do not come into social contact with each other until 

44 Capitalist Production. 

they exchange their products, the specific social character of 
each producer s labour does not show itself except in the act of 
-exchange. In other words, the labour of the individual asserts 
itself as a part of the labour of society, only by means of the 
relations which the act of exchange establishes directly between 
the products, and indirectly, through them, between the pro 
ducers. To the latter, therefore, the relations connecting the 
labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as 
direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what 
they really- are, material relations between persons and social 
relations between things. It is only by being exchanged that 
the products of labour acquire, as values, one uniform social 
status, distinct from their varied forms of existence as objects 
of utility. This division of a product into a useful thing and 
a value becomes practically important, only when exchange 
has acquired such an extension that useful articles are produced 
for the purpose of being exchanged, and their character as 
values has therefore to be taken into account, beforehand, 
during production. From this moment the labour of the 
individual producer acquires socially a two-fold character. On 
the one hand, it must, as a definite useful kind of labour, 
satisfy a definite social want, and thus hold its place as part 
and parcel of the collective labour of all, as a branch of a social 
division of labour that has sprung up spontaneously. On the 
other hand, it can satisfy the manifold wants of the individual 
producer himself, only in so far as the mutual exchangeability 
of all kinds of useful private labour is an established social fact, 
and therefore the private useful labour of each producer ranks 
on an equality with that of all others. The equalisation of the 
most different kinds of labour can be the result only of an 
abstraction from their inequalities, or of reducing them to 
their common denominator, viz., expenditure of human labour 
power or human labour in the abstract. The two-fold Bocial 
character of the labour of the individual appears to him, when 
reflected in his brain, only under those forms which are im 
pressed upon that labour in everyday practice by the exchange 
of products. In this way, the character that his own labour 
possesses of being socially useful takes the form of the condition, 

Commodities. 4 5 

that the product must be not only useful, but useful for others, 
and the social character that his particular labour has of being 
the equal of all other particular kinds of labour, takes the form 
that all the physically different articles that are the products 
of labour, have one common quality, viz., that of having value. 

Hence, when we bring the products of our labour into rela 
tion with each other as values, it is not because we see in these 
articles the material receptacles of homogeneous human labour. 
Quite the contrary : whenever, by an exchange, we equate as 
values our different products, by that very act, we also equate, 
as human labour, the different kinds of labour expended upon 
them. We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it. 1 
Value, therefore, does not stalk about with a label describing 
what it is. It is value, rather, that converts every product 
into a social hieroglyphic. Later on, we try to decipher the 
hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of our own social pro 
ducts ; for to stamp an object of utility as a value, is just as 
much a social product as language. The recent scientific dis 
covery, that the products of labour, so far as they are values, 
are but material expressions of the human labour spent in 
their production, marks, indeed, an epoch in the history of the 
development of the human race, but, by no means, dissipates 
the mist through which the social character of labour appears 
to us to be an objective character of the products themselves. 
The fact, that in the particular form of production with which 
we are dealing, viz., the production of commodities, the specific 
social character of private labour carried on independently, 
consists in the equality of every kind of that labour, by virtue 
of its being human labour, which character, therefore, assumes 
in the product the form of value this fact appears to the 
producers, notwithstanding the discovery above referred to, 
to be just as real and final, as the fact, that, after the discovery 
by science of the component gases of air, the atmosphere itself 
remained unaltered. 

What, first of all, practically concerns producers when they 

1 When, therefore, Galiani says: Value is a relation between persons "La 
Pvicchezza e una ragione tra due persone," he ought to have added : a relation be 
tween persons expressed as a relation between things. (Galiani : Delia Moneta, p. 
221, V. Ill of Custodi s collection of " Scrittori Classic! Italian! di Economia Poll- 
tica." Parte Moderna, Milano, 1803) 

46 Capitalist Production. 

make an exchange, is the question, how much of some other 
product they get for their own? in what proportions the pro 
ducts are exchangeable ? When these proportions have, by 
custom, attained a certain stability, they appear to result from 
the nature of the products, so that, for instance, one ton of iron 
and two ounces of gold appear as naturally to be of equal value 
as a pound of gold and a pound of iron in spite of their 
different physical and chemical qualities appear to be of equal 
weight. The character of having value, when once impressed 
upon products, obtains fixity only by reason of their acting and 
re-acting upon each other as quantities of value. These 
quantities vary continually, independently of the will, fore 
sight and action of the producers. To them, their own social 
action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the 
producers instead of being ruled by them. It requires a fully 
developed production of commodities before, from accumulated 
experience alone, the scientific conviction springs up, that all 
the different kinds of private labour, which are carried on in 
dependently of each other, and yet as spontaneously developed 
branches of the social division of labour, are continually being 
reduced to the quantitative proportions in which society re 
quires them. And why? Because, in the midst of all the 
accidental and ever fluctuating exchange-relations between 
the products, the labour-time socially necessary for their pro 
duction forcibly asserts itself like an over-riding law of nature. 
The law of gravity thus asserts itself when a house falls about 
our ears. 1 The determination of the magnitude of value by 
labour-time is therefore a secret, hidden under the apparent 
fluctuations in the relative values of commodities. Its dis 
covery, while removing all appearance of mere accidentally 
from the determination of the magnitude of the values of 
products, yet in no way alters the mode in which that 
determination takes place. 

Man s reflections on the forms of social life, and consequently, 

1 "What are we to think of a law that asserts itself only by periodical revolu 
tions? It is just nothing but a law of Nature, founded on the want of knowledge of 
those whose action is the subject of it." (Friedrich Engels : Umrisse zu einer Kritik 
der Nation lokonomie, in the " Deutsch-franzosische Jahrbiicher," edited by Arnold 
Ruge and Karl Marx. Paris, 1844. ) 

Commodities. 47 

also, his scientific analysis of those forms, take a course directly 
opposite to that of their actual historical development. He 
begins, post festum, with the results of the process of develop 
ment ready to hand before him. The characters that stamp 
products as commodities, and whose establishment is a necessary 
preliminary to the circulation of commodities, have already 
acquired the stability of natural, self-understood forms of social 
life, before man seeks to decipher, not their historical character, 
for in his eyes they are immutable, but their meaning. 
Consequently it was the analysis of the prices of commodities 
that alone led to the determination of the magnitude of value, 
and it was the common expression of all commodities in money 
that alone led to the establishment of their characters as values. 
It is, however, just this ultimate money form of the world of 
commodities that actually conceals, instead of disclosing, the 
social character of private labour, and the social relations 
between the individual producers. When I state that coats or 
boots stand in a relation to linen, because it is the universal 
incarnation of abstract human labour, the absurdity of the 
statement is self-evident. Nevertheless, when the producers of 
coats and boots compare those articles with linen, or, what is 
the same thing, with gold or silver, as the universal equivalent, 
they express the relation between their own private labour and 
the collective labour of society in the same absurd form. 

The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like 
forms. They are forms of thought expressing with social 
validity the conditions and relations of a definite, historically 
determined mode of production, viz., the production of com 
modities. The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic 
and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour as long 
as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so 
soon as we come to other forms of production. 

Since Robinson Crusoe s experiences are a favourite theme 
with political economists,* let us take a look at him on his 

1 Even Ricardo has his stories & la Robinson. " He makes the primitive hunter and 
the primitive fisher straightway, as owners of commodities, exchange fish and game in 
the proportion in which labour-time is incorporated in these exchange values. On 
this occasion he commits the anachronism of making these men apply to the calcula 
tion, so far as their implements have to be taken into account, the annuity tables ic 

48 Capitalist Production. 

island. Moderate though he be, yet some few wants he has to 
satisfy, and must therefore do a little useful work of various 
sorts, such as making tools and furniture, taming goats, fishing 
and hunting. Of his prayers and the like we take no account, 
since they are a source of pleasure to him, and he looks upon 
them as so much recreation. In spite of the variety of his 
work, he knows that his labour, whatever its form, is but the 
activity of one and the same Robinson, and consequently, that 
it consists of nothing but different modes of human labour. 
Necessity itself compels him to apportion his time accurately 
between his different kinds of work. Whether one kind 
occupies a greater space in his general activity than another, 
depends on the difficulties, greater or less as the case may be, 
to be overcome in attaining the useful effect aimed at. This 
our friend Robinson soon learns by experience, and having 
rescued a watch, ledger, and pen and ink from the wreck, 
commences, like a true-born Briton, to keep a set of books. 
His stock-book contains a list of the objects of utility that 
belong to him, of the operations necessary for their production 
and lastly, of the labour time that definite quantities of those 
objects have, on an average, cost him. All the relations 
between Robinson and the objects that form this wealth of his 
own creation, are here so simple and clear as to be intelligible 
without exertion, even to Mr. Sedley Taylor. And yet those 
relations contain all that is essential to the determination of 

Let us now transport ourselves from Robinson s island 
bathed in light to the European middle ages shrouded in dark 
ness. Here, instead of the independent man, we find everyone 
dependent, serfs and lords, vassals and suzerains, laymen and 
clergy. Personal dependence here characterises the social 
relations of production just as much as it does the other spheres 
of life organized on the basis of that production. But for the 
very reason that personal dependence forms the groundwork 
of society, there is no necessity for labour and its products to 

current use on the London Exchange in the year 1817. The parallelograms of Mr. 
Owen appear to be the only form of society, besides the bourgeois form, with which 
he was acquainted." (Karl Marx : "Zur Kritik," &c., p. 38, 39.) 

Commodities. 49 

assume a fantastic form different from their reality. They 
take the shape, in the transactions of society, of services in kind 
and payments in kind. Here the particular and natural form 
of labour, and not, as in a society based on production of com 
modities, its general abstract form is the immediate social form 
of labour. Compulsory labour is just as properly measured by 
time, as commodity-producing labour; but every serf knows 
that what he expends in the service of his lord, is a definite 
quantity of his own personal labour-power. The tithe to be 
rendered to the priest is more matter of fact than his blessing. 
No matter, then, what we may think of the parts played by the 
different classes of people themselves in this society, the social 
relations between individuals in the performance of their 
labour, appear at all events as their own mutual personal rela 
tions, and are not disguised under the shape of social relations 
between the products of labour. 

For an example of labour in common or directly associated 
labour, we have no occasion to go back to that spontaneously 
developed form which we find on the threshold of the history 
of all civilized races. 1 We have one close at hand in the 
patriarchal industries of a peasant family, that produces corn, 
cattle, yarn, linen, and clothing for home use. These different 
articles are, as regards the family, so many products of its 
labour, but as between themselves, they are not commodities. 
The different kinds of labour, such as tillage, cattle tending, 

Q o* 

spinning, weaving and making clothes, which result in the 
various products, are in themselves, and such as they are, direct 
social functions, because functions of the family, which, just as 
much as a society based on the production of commodities, 
possesses a spontaneously developed system of division of 
labour. The distribution of the work within the family, and 

" A ridiculous presumption has latterly got abroad that common property in its 
primitive form is specifically a Slavonian, or even exclusively Russian form. It is the 

primitive form that we can prove to have existed amongst Romans, Teutons, 
Celts, and even to this day we find numerous examples, ruins though they be, in 
India. A more exhaustive study of Asiatic, and especially of Indian forms of common 
property, would show how from the different forms of primitive common property, 
different forms of its dissolution have been developed. Thus, for instance, the various 
original types of Roman and Teutonic private property are deducible from different; 
formi of Indian common property." (Karl Marx. " Zur Kritik," <&c., p. 10.) 


50 Capitalist Production. 

the regulation of the labour-time of the several members, 
depend as well upon differences of age and sex as upon natural 
conditions varying with the seasons. The labour-power of each 
individual, by its very nature, operates in this case merely as 
a definite portion of the whole labour-power of the family, and 
therefore, the measure of the expenditure of individual labour- 
power by its duration, appears here by its very nature as a 
social character of their labour. 

Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a com 
munity of free individuals, carrying on their work with the 
means of production in common, in which the labour-power of 
all the different individuals is consciously applied as the 
combined labour-power of the community. All the charac 
teristics of Robinson s labour are here repeated, but with this 
difference, that they are social, instead of individual. Every 
thing produced by him was exclusively the result of his own 
personal labour, and therefore simply an object of use for 
himself. The total product of our community is a social 
product. One portion serves aa fresh means of production and 
remains social. But another portion is consumed by the 
members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this 
portion amongst them is consequently necessary. The mode 
of this distribution will vary with the productive organization 
of the community, and the degree of historical development 
attained by the producers. We will assume, but merely for 
the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities, that 
the share of each individual producer in the means of subsis 
tence is determined by his labour-time. Labour-time would, 
in that case, play a double part. Its apportionment in accor 
dance with a definite social plan maintains the proper proportion 
between the different kinds of work to be done and the various 
wants of the community. On the other hand, it also serves as 
a measure of the portion of the common labour borne by each 
individual, and of his share in the part of the total product des 
tined for individual consumption. The social relations of the 
individual producers, with regard both to their labour and to its 
products, are in this case perfectly simple and intelligible, and 
that with regard not only to production but also to distribution. 

Commodities. 5 1 

The religious world is but the reflex of the real world 
for a society based upon the production of commodities, in 
which the producers in general enter into social relations with 
one another by treating their products as commodities and 
values, whereby they reduce their individual private labour to 
the standard of homogeneous human labour for such a society, 
Christianity with its cultus of abstract man, more especially in 
its bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, &c., is the 
most fitting form of religion. In the ancient Asiatic and other 
ancient modes of production, we find that the conversion of 
products into commodities, and therefore the conversion of men 
into producers of commodities, holds a subordinate place, which, 
however, increases in importance as the primitive communities 
approach nearer and nearer to their dissolution. Trading 
nations, properly so called, exist in the ancient world only in 
its interstices, like the gods of Epicurus in the Intermundia, or 
like Jews in the pores of Polish society. Those ancient social 
organisms of production are, as compared with bourgeois 
society, extremely simple and transparent. But they are 
founded either on the immature development of man in 
dividually, who has not yet severed the umbilical cord that 
unites him with his fellow men in a primitive tribal com 
munity, or upon direct relations of subjection. They can 
arise and exist only when the development of the productive 
power of labour has not risen beyond a low stage, and when, 
therefore, the social relations within the sphere of material 
life, between man and man, and between man and Nature, are 
correspondingly narrow. This narrowness is reflected in the 
ancient worship of Nature, and in the other elements of the 
popular religions. The religious reflex of the real world can, 
in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical re 
lations of everyday life offer to man none but perfectly in 
telligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellowmen 
and to nature. 

The life-process of society, which is based on the process of 
material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it 
is treated as production by freely associated men, and is con 
sciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan, 

52 Capitalist Production. 

This, however, demands for society a certain material ground 
work or set of conditions of existence which in their turn are 
the spontaneous product of a long and painful process of 

Political economy has indeed analysed, however incom 
pletely, J value and its magnitude, and has discovered what lies 
beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question 
why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour 
time by the magnitude of that value. 3 These formulae, which 

1 The insufficiency of Ricardo s analysis of the magnitude of value, and his analysis 
is by far the best, will appear from the 3rd and 4th books of this work. As regards 
value in general, it is the weak point of the classical school of political economy that 
it nowhere, expressly and with full consciousness, distinguishes between labour, as it 
appears in the value of a product and the same labour, as it appears in the use- 
value of that product. Of course the distinction is practically made, since this school 
treats labour, at one time under its quantitative aspect, at another under its qualita 
tive aspect. But it has not the least idea, that when the difference between various 
kinds of labour is treated as purely quantitative, their qualitative unity or equality, 
and therefore their reduction to abstract human labour, is implied. For instance^ 
Ricardo declares that he agrees with Destutt de Tracy in this proposition : "As it is 
certain that our physical and moral faculties are alone our original riches, the em 
ployment of those faculties, labour of some kind, is our only original treasure, and it is 
always from this employment that all those things are created, which we call riches. 
. . . It is certain, too, that all those things only represent the labour which DAS 
created them, and if they have a value, or even two distinct values, they can only 
derive them from that (the value) of the labour from which they emanate." (Kicardo, 
The Principles of Pol. Econ. 3 Ed. Lond. 1821, p. 334). We would here only point 
out, that Ricardo puts his own more profound interpretation upon the words of Des 
tutt. What the latter really says is, that on the one hand all things which constitute 
wealth represent the labour that creates them, but that on the other hand, they ac 
quire their " two different values " (use-value and exchange-value) from " the value 
of labour." He thus falls into the commonplace error of the vulgar economists, who- 
assume the value of one commodity (in this case labour) in order to determine the 
values of the rest. But Ricardo reads him as if he had said, that labour (not the 
value of labour) is embodied both in use-value and exchange-value. Nevertheless, 
Ricardo himself pays so little attention to the two-fold character of the labour which 
has a two-fold embodiment, that he devotes the whole of his chapter on " Value and 
Riches, Their Distinctive Properties," to a laborious examination of the trivialities 
of a J. B. Say. And at the finish he is quite astonished to find that Destutt on the 
one hand agrees with him as to labour being the source of value, and on the other 
hand with J. B. Say as to the notion of value. 

8 It is one of the chief failings of classical economy that it has never succeeded, by 
means of its analysis of commodities, and, in particular, of their value, in discover 
ing that form under which value becomes exchange-value. Even Adam Smith and 
Ricardo, the beet representatives of the school, treat the form of value as a thing of 
no importance, as having no connection with the inherent nature of commodities. 
The reason for this is not solely because their attention is entirely absorbed in the 
analysis of the magnitude of value. It lies deeper. The value form of the product 



bear stamped upon them in unmistakeable letters, that they 
belong to a state of society, in which the process of production 
has the mastery over man, instead of being controlled by him, 
such formulae appear to the bourgeois intellect to be as much a 
self-evident necessity imposed by nature as productive labour 
itself. Hence forms of social production that preceded the 
bourgeois form, are treated by the bourgeoisie in much the 
same way as the Fathers of the Church treated pre-Christian 
religions. 1 

of labour is not only the most abstract, but is also the most universal form, taken by 
the product in bourgeois production, and stamps that production as a particular 
species of social production, and thereby gives it its special historical character. If 
then we treat this mode of production as one eternally fixed by nature for every 
state of society, we necessarily overlook that which is the differentia specifica of the 
value-form, and consequently of the commodity-form, and of its further develop 
ments, money-form, capital-form, &c. We consequently find that economists, who 
are thoroughly agreed as to labour time being the measure of the magnitude of value, 
have the most strange and contradictory ideas of money, the perfected form of the 
general equivalent. This is seen in a striking manner when they treat of banking, 
where the commonplace definitions of money will no longer hold water. This led to 
the rise of a restored mercantile system (Ganilh, &c.), which sees in value nothing 
but a social form, or rather the unsubstantial ghost of that form. Once for all I may 
here state, that by classical political economy, I understand that economy which, 
aince the time of W. Petty, has investigated the real relations of production in bour 
geois society, in contradistinction to vulgar economy, which deals with appearances 
only, ruminates without ceasing on the materials long since provided by scientific 
economy, and there seeks plausible explanations of the most obtrusive phenomena, 
for bourgeois daily use, but for the rest, confines itself to systematizing in a pedantic 
way, and proclaiming for everlasting truths, the trite ideas held by the self-compla 
cent bourgeoisie with regard to their own world, to them the best of all possible 

1 Les ecouomistes ont une singuliere maniere de proceder. II n y a pour eux que 
deux sortes d institutions, celles de 1 art et celles de la nature. Les institutions de 
la feodalite sont des institutions artificielles, celles de la bourgeoisie sont des institu 
tions naturelles. Us ressemblent en ceci aux theologiens, qui eux aussi etablissent 
*leux sortes de religions. Toute religion qui n est pas la leur, est une invention des 
hommes, tandis que leur propre religion est une emanation de Dieu Ainsi il 
y a eu de 1 histoire, mais il n y en a plus." (Karl Marx. Misere de la Philosophie. 
Reponse a la Philosophie de la Misere par M. Proudhon, 1847 p. 113.) Truly comical 
is M. Bastiat, who imagines that the ancient Greeks and Romans lived by plunder 
alone. But when people plunder for centuries, there must always be something at 
hand for them to seize ; the objects of plunder must be continually reproduced. It 
would thus appear that even Greeks and Romans had some process of production, 
consequently, an economy, which just as much constituted the material basis of their 
world, as bourgeois economy constitutes that of our modern world. Or perhaps Bas 
tiat means, that a mode of production based on slavery is based on a system of plun 
der. In that case he treads on dangerous ground. If a giant thinker like Aristotle 
erred in his appreciation of slave labour, why should a dwarf economist like Bastiat 
be right in his appreciation of wage labour ? I seize this opportunity of shortly 

54 Capitalist Production. 

To what extent some economists are misled by the Fetishism 
inherent in commodities, or by the objective appearance of the 
social characteristics of labour, is shown, amongst other ways, 
by the dull and tedious quarrel over the part played by Nature 
in the formation of exchange value. Since exchange value is 
a definite social manner of expressing the amount of labour 
bestowed upon an object, Nature has no more to do with it, 
than it has in fixing the course 01 exchange. 

The mode of production in which the product takes the 
form of a commodity, or is produced directly for exchange, is the 
most general and most embryonic form of bourgeois production. 
It therefore makes its appearance at an early date in history, 
though not in the same predominating and characteristic 
manner as now-a-daya. Hence its Fetish character is com 
paratively easy to be seen through. But when we come 
to more concrete forms, even this appearance of simplicity 
vanishes. Whence arose the illusions of the monetary system ? 
To it gold and silver, when serving as money, did not repre 
sent a social relation between producers, but were natural 
objects with strange social properties. And modern economy, 
which looks down with such disdain on the monetary system, 
does not its superstition come out as clear as noon-day, when 
ever it treats of capital ? How long is it since economy dis 
carded the physiocratic illusion, that rents grow out of the 
soil and not out of society ? 

answering an objection taken by a German paper in America, to my work, "Zur 
Kritik der Pol. Oekonomie, 1859." In the estimation of that paper, my view that each 
special mode of production and the social relations corresponding to it, in short, that 
the economic structure of society, is the real basis on which the juridical and political 
jmperstructure is raised, and to which definite social forms of thought correspond ; 
that the mode of production determines the character of the social, political, and in 
tellectual life generally, all this is very true for our own times, in which material 
interests preponderate, but not for the middle ages, in which Catholicism, nor for 
Athens and Rome, where politics, reigned supreme. In the first place it strikes one 
as an odd thing for any one to suppose that these well-worn phrases about the middle 
ages and the ancient world are unknown to anyone else. This much, however, is 
clear, that the middle ages could not live on Catholicism, nor the ancient world on 
politics. On the contrary, it is the mo.le in which they gained a livelihood that ex 
plains why here politics, and there Catholicism, played the chief parb. For the rest, 
it requires but a slight acquaintance with the history of the Roman republic, foi 
example, to be aware that its secret history, ia the history of its landed property. 
On the other hand, Don Quixote long ago paid the penalty for wrongly imagining; 
that knight errantry was compatible with all economical forms of society. 

Commodities. 5 5 

But not to anticipate, we will content ourselves with yet 
another example relating to the commodity form. Could com 
modities themselves speak, they would say: Our use-value may 
be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. 
What, however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our 
natural intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of 
each other we are nothing but exchange values. Now listen 
how those commodities speak through the mouth of the econo 
mist. " Value " (i.e., exchange value) " is a property of things, 
riches " (t., use-value) " of man. Value, in this sense, neces 
sarily implies exchanges, riches do not/ 1 "Riches" (use-value) 
" are the attribute of men, value is the attribute of commodi 
ties. A man or a community is rich, a pearl or a diamond is 
valuable ... A pearl or a diamond is valuable " as a pearl or 
diamond." So far no chemist has ever discovered exchange 
value either in a pearl or a diamond. The economical dis 
coverers of this chemical element, who by-the-bye lay special 
claim to critical acumen, find however that the use-value of 
objects belongs to them independently of their material pro 
perties, while their value, on the other hand, forms a part of 
them as objects. What confirms them in this view, is the 
peculiar circumstance that the use- value of objects is realised 
without exchange, by means of a direct relation between the 
objects and man, while, on the other hand, their value is real 
ised only by exchange, that is, by means of a social process. 
Who fails here to call to mind our good friend, Dogberry, who 
informs neighbour Seacoal, that, " To be a well-favoured man 
is the gift of fortune ; but reading and writing comes by 

1 Observations on certain verbal disputes in Pol. Econ., particularly relating to value 
and to demand and tupply. Load., 1821, p. 16. 

a S. Bailey, L c., p. 165. 

8 The author of " Observations " and S. Bailey accuse Ricardo of converting ex 
change value from something relative into something absolute. The opposite is the 
fact. He has explained the apparent relation between objects, such as diamonds and 
pearls, in which relation they appear as exchange values, and disclosed the true rela 
tion hidden behind the appearances, namely, their relation to each other as mere 
expression* of human labour. If the followers of Ricardo answer Bailey somewhat 
rudely, and by no means convincingly, the reason is to be sought in this, that they 
were unable to find in Ricardo s own works any key to the hidden relations existing 
between value and its form, exchange value. 



56 Capitalist Production. 



IT is plain that commodities cannot go to market and make 
exchanges of their own account. We must, therefore, have 
recourse to their guardians, who are also their owners/ Com 
modities are things, and therefore without power of resistance 
against man. If they are wanting in docility he can use force ; 
in other words, he can take possession of them. 1 In order that 
these objects may enter into relation with each other as 
commodities, their guardians must place themselves in relation 
to one another, as persons whose will resides in those objects, 
and must behave in such a way that each does not appropriate 
the commodity of the other, and part with his own, except by 
means of an act done by mutual consent. They must, there 
fore, mutually recognise in each other the rights of private 
proprietors. This juridical relation, which thus expresses itself 
in a contract, whether such contract be part of a developed 
legal system or not, is a relation between two wills, and is but 
the reflex of the real economical relation between the two. It 
is this economical relation that determines the subject matter 
comprised in each such juridical act. 2 The persons exist for 
one another merely as representatives of, and, therefore, as 

1 In the 12th century, BO renowned for its piety, they included amongst com 
modities some very delicate things. Thus a French poet of the period enumerates 
amongst the goods to be found in the market of Landit, not only clothing, shoes, 
leather, agricultural implements, &c., but also " femmes folles de leur corps." 

2 Proudhon begins by taking his ideal of justice, of "justice eternelle," from 
the juridical relations that correspond to the production of commodities : thereby, 
it may be noted, he proves, to the consolation of all good citizens, that the 
production of commodities is a form of production as everlasting as justice. 
Then he turns round and seeks to reform the actual production of commodities, and 
the actual legal system corresponding thereto, in accordance with this ideal. What 
opinion should we have of a chemist, who, instead of studying the actual laws of the 
molecular changes in the composition and decomposition of matter, and on that 
foundation solving definite problems, claimed to regulate the composition and 
decomposition of matter by means of the "eternal ideas," of "naturalite" and 
"affinite?" Do we really know any more about " usury," when we say it contra 
dicts "justice eternelle," "equite eternelle," " mutualite eternelle," and other 
" verites eternelles " than the fathers of the church did when they said it was incom 
patible with " grace eternelle," " foi eternelle," and " la volont<5 eternelle de Dieu f 

Exchange. 57 

owners of, commodities. In the course of our investigation we 
shall find, in general, that the characters who appear on the 
economic stage are but the personifications of the economical 
relations that exist between them. 

What chiefly distinguishes a commodity from its owner is the 
fact, that it looks upon every other commodity as but the form 
of appearance of its own value. A born leveller and a cynic, 
it is always ready to exchange not only soul, but body, with 
any and every other commodity, be the same more repulsive 
than Maritornes herself. The owner makes up for this lack in 
the commodity of a sense of the concrete, by his own five and 
more senses. His commodity possesses for himself no im 
mediate use-value. Otherwise, he would not bring it to the 
market. It has use- value for others ; but for himself its only 
direct use-value is that of being a depository of exchange 
value, and, consequently, a means of exchange. 1 Therefore, 
he makes up his mind to part with it for commodities whose 
value in use is of service to him. All commodities are non-use- 
values for their owners, ..aud use- values for their non-owners. 
Consequently, they must all change hands. But this change 
of hands is what constitutes their exchange, and the latter 
puts them in relation with each other as values, and realises 
them as values. Hence commodities must be realised as values 
before they can be realised as use-values. 

On the other hand, they must show that they are use- 
values before they can be realised as values. For the labour 
spent upon them counts effectively, only in so far as it is spent 
in a form that is useful for others. Whether that labour is use 
ful for others, and its product consequently capable of satisfying 
the wants of others, can be proved only by the act of exchange. 

Every owner of a commodity wishes to part with it in ex 
change only for those commodities whose use-value satisfies 
some want of his. Looked at in this way, exchange is for 

1 "For two-fold is the use of every object. . . . The one is peculiar to the 
object as such, the other is not, as a sandal which may be worn, and is also exchange 
able. Both are uses of the sandal, for even he who exchanges the sandal for th 
money or food he is in want of, makes use of the sandal as a sandal. But not in 
its natural way. For it has not been made for the sake of being exchanged. 
(Aristoteles, de Rep., 1. i. c. 9.) 

58 Capitalist Production. 

him simply a private transaction. On the other hand, he de 
sires to realise the value of his commodity, to convert it into 
any other suitable commodity of equal value, irrespective of 
whether his own commodity has or has not any use-value for 
the owner of the other. From this point of view, exchange is 
for him a social transaction of a general character. But one 
and the same set of transactions cannot be simultaneously for 
all owners of commodities both exclusively private and ex 
clusively social and general. 

Let us look at the matter a little closer. To the owner of a 
commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own, a 
particular equivalent, and consequently his own commodity is 
the universal equivalent for all the others. But since this 
applies to every owner, there is, in fact, no commodity acting 
as universal equivalent, and the relative value of commodities 
possesses no general form under which they can be equated as 
values and have the magnitude of their values compared. So 
far, therefore, they do not confront each other as commodities, 
but only as products or use- values. In their difficulties our 
commodity-owners think like Faust : " Im Anfang war die 
That." They therefore acted and transacted before they 
thought. Instinctively they conform to the laws imposed by 
the nature of commodities. They cannot bring their com 
modities into relation as values, and therefore as commodities,, 
except by comparing them with some one other commodity 
as the universal equivalent. That we saw from the analysis 
of a commodity. But a particular commodity cannot become 
the universal equivalent except by a social act. The social 
action therefore of all other commodities, sets apart the par 
ticular commodity in which they all represent their values. 
Thereby the bodily form of this commodity becomes the form 
of the socially recognised universal equivalent. To be the 
universal equivalent, becomes, by this social process, the 
specific function of the commodity thus excluded by the rest. 
Thus it becomes money. "Illi unum consilium habent et 
virtu tern et potestatem suam bestise tradunt. Et ne quis 
possit emere aut vendere, nisi qui habet characterem aut 
nomen bestiae, aut numerum nominis ejus." ^Apocalypse.) 

Exchange. 59 

Money is a crystal formed of necessity in the course of the 
exchanges, whereby different products of labour are practically 
equated to one another and thus by practice converted into 
commodities. The historical progress and extension of ex 
changes develops the contrast, latent in commodities, between 
use- value and value. The necessity for giving an external 
expression to this contrast for the purposes of commercial in 
tercourse, urges on the establishment of an independent form 
of value, and finds no rest until it is once for all satisfied by 
the differentiation of commodities into commodities and money. 
At the same rate, then, as the conversion of products into 
commodities is being accomplished, so also is the conversion of 
one special commodity into money. 1 

The direct barter of products attains the elementary form 
of the relative expression of value in one respect, but not in 
another. That form is x Commodity A = y Commodity B. 
The form of direct barter is x use- value A = y use-value B. f 
The articles A and B in this case are not as yet commodities, 
but become so only by the act of barter. The first step made 
by an object of utility towards acquiring exchange-value 
is when it forms a non-use-value for its owner, and that 
happens when it forms a superfluous portion of some article 
required for his immediate wants. Objects in themselves are 
external to man, and consequently alienable by him. In order 
that this alienation may be reciprocal, it is only necessary for 
men, by a tacit understanding, to treat each other as private 
owners of those alienable objects, and by implication r as inde 
pendent individuals. But such a state of reciprocal indepen 
dence has no existence in a primitive society based on pro 
perty in common, whether such a society takes the form of a 
patriarchal family, an ancient Indian community, or a Peruvian 

1 From this we may form an estimate of the shrewdness of the petit-bourgeois 
socialism, which, while perpetuating the production of commodities, aims at abolishing 
the "antagonism " between money and commodities, and consequently, since money 
exists only by virtue of this antagonism, at abolishing money itself. We might just 
as well try to retain Catholicism without the Pope. For more on thia point see my 
work, " Zur Kritik der Pol. Oekon.," p. 61, B.q. 

2 So long as, instead of two distinct use-values being exchanged, a chaotic mass of 
articles are offered as the equivalent of a single article, which is often the case with 
savages, even the direct burter of products is in its first infancy. 

60 Capitalist Production. 

Inca State. The exchange of commodities, therefore, first 
begins on the boundaries of such communities, at their points 
of contact with other similar communities, or with members of 
the latter. So soon, however, as products once become com 
modities in the external relations of a community, they also, 
by reaction, become so in its internal intercourse. The pro 
portions in which they are exchangeable are at first quite a 
matter of chance. What makes them exchangeable is the 
mutual desire of their owners to alienate them. Meantime the 
need for foreign objects of utility gradually establishes itself. 
The constant repetition of exchange makes it a normal social 
act. In the course of time, therefore, some portion at least of 
the products of labour must be produced with a special view 
to exchange. From that moment the distinction becomes 
firmly established between the utility of an object for the pur 
poses of consumption, and its utility for the purposes of ex 
change. Its use- value becomes distinguished from its exchange 
value. On the other hand, the quantitative proportion in 
which the articles are exchangeable, becomes dependent on 
their production itself. Custom stamps them as values with 
definite magnitudes. 

In the direct barter of products, each commodity is directly 
a means of exchange to its owner, and to all other persons an 
equivalent but that only in so far as it has use-value for them. 
At this stage, therefore, the articles exchanged do not acquire 
a value-form independent of their own use-value, or of the 
individual needs of the exchangers. The necessity for a value- 
form grows with the increasing number and variety of the 
commodities exchanged. The problem and the means of solu 
tion arise simultaneously. Commodity-owners never equate 
their own commodities to those of others, and exchange them 
on a large scale, without different kinds of commodities belong 
ing to different owners being exchangeable for, and equated as 
values to, one and the same special article. Such last-men 
tioned article, by becoming the equivalent of various other 
commodities, acquires at once, though within narrow limits, 
the character of a general social equivalent. This character 
comes and goes with the momentary social acts that called it 

Exchange. 6 1 

into life. In turns and transiently it attaches itself first to this 
and then to that commodity. But with the development of 
exchange it fixes itself firmly and exclusively to particular 
sorts of commodities, and becomes crystallised by assuming the 
money-form. The particular kind of commodity to which it 
sticks is- at first a matter of accident. Nevertheless there are 
two circumstances whose influence is decisive. The money- 
form attaches itself either to the most important articles of ex 
change from outside, and these in fact are primitive and natural 
forms in which the exchange- value of home products finds ex 
pression ; or else it attaches itself to the object of utility 
that forms, like cattle, the chief portion of indigenous alienable 
wealth. Nomad races are the first to develop the money-form, 
because all their worldly goods consist of moveable objects 
and are therefore directly alienable ; and because their mode of 
life, by continually bringing them into contact with foreign com 
munities, solicits the exchange of products. Man has often 
made man himself, under the form of slaves, serve as the pri 
mitive material of money, but has never used land for that 
purpose. Such an idea could only spring up in a bourgeois 
society already well developed. It dates from the last third of 
the 17th century, and the first attempt to put it in practice 
on a national scale was made a century afterwards, during the 
French bourgeois revolution. 

In proportion as exchange bursts its local bonds, and the 
value of commodities more and more expands into an embodi 
ment of human labour in the abstract, in the same proportion 
the character of money attaches itself to commodities that are 
by nature fitted to perform the social function of a universal 
quivalent. Those commodities are the precious metals. 

The truth of the proposition that, " although gold and silver 
are not by nature money, money is by nature gold and 
silver," 1 is shown by the fitness of the physical properties of 
these metals for the functions of money.* Up to this point, 
however, we are acquainted only with one function of money, 

1 Karl Marx. 1. c. p. 135. "I metalli. . . naturalmente moneta," (Galiani. 
" Delia moneta " in Custodi s Collection : Parte Moderna t. iii.). 

2 For further details on this subject see i -ny work cited above, the chapter oa 
11 The precious metals." 

6 2 Capitalist Production. 

namely, to serve as the form of manifestation of the value of 
commodities, or as the material in which the magnitudes of 
their values are socially expressed. An adequate form of 
manifestation of value, a fit embodiment of abstract, undiffer- 
entiated, and therefore equal human labour, that material 
alone can be whose every sample exhibits the same uniform 
qualities. On the other hand, since the difference between the 
magnitudes of value is purely quantitative, the money com 
modity must be susceptible of merely quantitative differences, 
must therefore be divisible at will, and equally capable of being 
re-united. Gold and silver possess these properties by nature. 

The use-value of the money commodity becomes twofold. 
In addition to its special use-value as a commodity (gold, 
for instance, serving to stop teeth, to form the raw material of 
articles of luxury, &c.), it acquires a formal use-value, origina 
ting in its specific social function. 

Since all commodities are merely particular equivalents of 
money, the latter being their universal equivalent, they, with 
regard to the latter as the universal commodity, play the parts 
of particular commodities. 1 

We have seen that the money-form is but the reflex, thrown 
upon one single commodity, of the value relations between all the 
rest. That money is a commodity 3 is therefore a new discovery 
only for those who, when they analyse it, start from its fully 
developed shape. The act of exchange gives to the commodity 
converted into money, not its value, but its specific value-form. 
By confounding these two distinct things some writers have 
been led to hold that the value of gold and silver is imagi- 

1 " II danaro e la merce universale (Verri, l.*c., p. 16). 

2 " Silver and gold themselves (which we may call by the general name of bullion), 
are . . . commodities . . . rising and falling in ... value. . . Bullion, then, may 
be reckoned to be of higher value where the smaller weight will purchase the greater 
quantity of the product or manufacture of the countrey," &c. ("A Discourse of the 
General Notions of Money, Trade, and Exchange, as they stand in relations to each 
other." By a Merchant. Lond., 1695, p. 7). " Silver and gold, coined or uncoined, 
though they are usee for a measure of all other things, are no less a commodity than 
tvine, oyl, tobacco, cloth, or stuffs." ("A Discourse concerning Trade, and that in 
particular of the East Indies," &c. London, 1689, p. 2). " The stock and riches of 
the kingdom cannot properly be confined to money, nor ought gold and silver to be 
excluded from being merchandize." (" A Treatise concerning the East India Trade 
being a most profitable Trade." London, 1680, Reprint 1696, p. 4). 

Exchange. 63 

nary. 1 The fact that money can, in certain functions, be replaced 
by mere symbols of itself, gave rise to that other mistaken notion, 
that it is itself a mere symbol. Nevertheless under this error 
lurked a presentiment that the money-form of an object is not 
an inseparable part of that object, but is simply the form under 
which certain social relations manifest themselves. In this 
sense every commodity is a symbol, since, in so far as it is 
value, it is only the material envelope of the human labour 
spent upon it. 1 But if it be declared that the social characters 
assumed by objects, or the material forms assumed by the 
social qualities of labour under the regime of a definite mode of 
production, are mere symbols, it is in the same breath also 
declared that these characteristics are arbitrary fictions sanc 
tioned by the so-called universal consent of mankind. This 

1 " L oro e 1 argento hanno valore come metalli anteriore all esser moneta." 
(Galiani, I.e.). Locke says, " The universal consent of mankind gave to silver, on 
account of its qualities which made it suitable for money, an imaginary value." Law, 
on the other hand, " How could different nations give an imaginary value to any 
single thing ... or how could this imaginary value have maintained itself ? " But 
the following shows how little he himself understood about the matter : "Silver was 
exchanged in proportion to the value in use it possessed, consequently in proportion to 
its real value. By its adoption as money it received an additional value (une valeur 
additionuelle) " (Jean Law : " Considerations BUT le num6raire et le commerce " in 
E. Daire s Edit, of "Economistea Financiers da XVIII. siecl.,"p. 470). 

2 " L Argent en (des denr6es) est le signe." (V. de Forbonnais : " Elements dr Ooir 
merce, Nouv. Edit. Leyde, 1776," t. II., p. 143). " Oomme signe il est attire" par les 
deludes." (l.<v. p. 155). " L argent est un sigiie d une chose et la reprdserite. " (Mon- 
tesqrieti : Espnt des Lois," Oeuvres, Lond. 1767, t. II. , p. 2). "L argent n est pas 
sia pie signe, car il est lui-meme richesse ; il ne represente pas les valeurs, il lei 
equivaut." (Le Trosne, l.c., p. 910). " The notion of value contemplates the valuable 
article as a mere symbol ; the article counts not for what it is, but for what it is 
worth." (Hegel, I.e., p. 100). Lawyers started long before economists the idea that 
money is a mere symbol, and that the value of the precious metals is purely imaginary. 
This they did in the sycophantic service of the crowned heads, supporting the right 
of the latter to debase the coinage, during the whole of the middle ages, by the tradi 
tions of the Roman Empire and the conceptions of money to be found in the Pandects. 
" Qu* aucun puisse ni doive faire doute," says an apt scholar of theirs, Philip of 
Valois, in a decree of 1346, " que a nous et a notre majeste 1 royale n appartiennent 
seulement . . . le mestier, le fait, I e tat, la provision et toute 1 ordonnance des 
monnaies, de donner tel cours, et pour tel prix comme il nous plait et bon nous 
semble." It was a maxim of the Roman Law that the value of money was fixed by 
decree of the emperor. It was expressly forbidden to treat money as a commodity. 
" Pecunias vero nulli emere fas erit, nam in usu publico constitutas oportet non esse 
mercem. " Some good work on this question has been done by G. F. Pagnini : 
" Saggio sopra il giusto pregio delle cose, 1751 "; Custodi "Parte Moderna," t. U. 
In the second part of his work Pagnini directs his polemics especially against the 

64 Capitalist Production. 

suited the mode of explanation in favour during the 18th 
century. Unable to account for the origin of the puzzling 
forms assumed by social relations between man and man, people 
sought to denude them of their strange appearance by ascribing 
to them a conventional origin. 


It has already been remarked above that the equivalent form 
of a commodity does not imply the determination of the magni 
tude of its value. Therefore, although we may be aware that golc 1 
is money, and consequently directly exchangeable for all other 
commodities, yet that fact by no means tells how much 10 Ibs., 
for instance, of gold is worth. Money, like every other com 
modity, cannot express the magnitude of its value except 
relatively in other commodities. This value is determined by 
the labour-time required for its production, and is expressed by 
the quantity of any other commodity that costs the same 
amount of labour- time. 1 Such quantitative determination of its 
relative value takes place at the source of its production by 
means of barter. When it steps into circulation as money, its 
value is already given. In the last decades of the 17th 
century it had already been shown that money is a commodity, 
but this step marks only the infancy of the analysis. The 
difficulty lies, not in comprehending that money is a commo 
dity, but in discovering how, why, and by what means a com 
modity becomes money. 2 

1 " If a man can bring to London an ounce of Silver out of the Earth in Peru, in the 
same time that he can produce a bushel of Corn, then the one is the natural price of 
the other ; now, if by reason of new or more easie mines a man can procure two 
ounces of silver as easily as he formerly did one, the corn will be as cheap at ten 
shillings the bushel as it was before at five shillings, caeteris paribus." William 
Petty : " A Treatise on Taxes and Contributions." Lond., 1662, p. 32. 

2 The learned Professor Roscher, after first informing us that "the false definitions 
of money may be divided into two main groups : those which make it more, and 
those which make it less, than a commodity, " gives us a long and very mixed cata 
logue of works on the nature of money, from which it appears that he has not the 
remotest idea of the real history of the theory ; and then he moralises thus : " For 
the rest, it is not to be denied that most of the later economists do not bear sufficiently 
in mind the peculiarities that distinguish money from other commodities " (it is then, 
after all, either more or less than a commodity !) . . . "So far, the semi-mercantilist 
reaction of Ganilh is not altogether without foundation." (Wilhelm Roscher : " Die 
Grundlagen der Nationaloekonomie, " 3rd Edn., 1858, pp. 277-210.) More! less! 
not sufficiently ! so far ! not altogether ! What clearness and precision of ideas and 
language ! And such eclectic professorial twaddle is modestly baptised by Mr. 
Roscher, the anatomico-physiological method " of political economy ! One discovery 
however, he must have credit for, namely, that money is " a pleasant commodity. " 

Exchange. 65 

We have already seeD, from the most elementary expression 
of value, x commodity A = y commodity B, that the object in 
which the magnitude of the value of another object is repre 
sented, appears to have the equivalent form independently of 
this relation, as a social property given to it by Nature. We 
followed up this false appearance to its final establishment, 
which is complete so soon as the universal equivalent form 
becomes identified with the bodily form of a particular com 
modity, and thus crystallised into the money-form. What 
appears to happen is, not that gold becomes money, in conse 
quence of all other commodities expressing their values in it, 
but, on the contrary, that all other commodities universally 
express their values in gold, because it is money. The inter 
mediate steps of the process vanish in the result and leave no 
trace behind. Commodities find their own value already com 
pletely represented, without any initiative on their part, in 
another commodity existing in company with them. These 
objects, gold and silver, just as they come out of the bowels of 
the earth, are forthwith the direct incarnation of all human 
labour. Hence the magic of money. In the form of society 
now under consideration, the behaviour of men in the social 
process of production is purely atomic. Hence their relations 
to each other in production assume a material character inde 
pendent of their control and conscious individual action. 
These facts manifest themselves at first by products as a general 
rule taking the form of commodities. We have seen how tho 
progressive development of a society of commodity-producers 
stamps one privileged commodity with the character of money. 
Hence the riddle presented by money is but the riddle pre 
sented by commodities; only it now strikes us in its most 
glaring form. 

Capitalist Production. 



THROUGHOUT this work, I assume, for the sake of simplicity, 
gold as the money-commodity. 

The first chief function of money is to supply commodities 
with the material for the expression of their values, or to re 
present their values as magnitudes of the same denomination, 
qualitatively equal, and quantitatively comparable. It thus 
serves as a universal measure of value. And only by virtue of 
this function does gold, the equivalent commodity par excel 
lence, become money. 

It is not money that renders commodities commensurable. 
Just the contrary. It is because all commodities, as values, are 
realised human labour, and therefore commensurable, that their 
values can be measured by one and the same special commodity, 
and the latter be converted into the common measure of their 
values, i.e. t into money. Money as a measure of value, is the 
phenomenal form that must of necessity be assumed by that 
measure of value which is immanent in commodities, labour- 
time. l 

The expression of the value of a commodity in gold x 
commodity A = y money-commodity is its money-form or 

1 The question Wliy does not money directly represent labour-time, BO that a 
piece of paper may represent, for instance, x hour s labour, is at bottom the same as 
the question why, given the production of commodities, must products take the form 
of commodities ? This is erident, since their taking the form of commodities implies 
their differentiation into commodities and money. Or, why cannot private labour 
labour for the account of private individuals be treated as its opposite, immediate 
social labour? I have elsewhere examined thoroughly the Utopian idea of "labour- 
money" in a society founded on the production of commodities (1. c., p. 61, seq.). 
On this point I will only say further, that Owen s "labour-money," for instance, ia 
no more "money" than a ticket for the theatre. Owen presupposes directly 
associated labour, a form of production that is entirely inconsistent with the produc 
tion of commodities. The certificate of labour ia merely evidence of the part taken 
by the individual in the common labour, and of his right to a certain portion of the 
common produce destined for consumption. But it never enters into Owen s head to 
presuppose the production of commodities, and at the same time, by juggling with 
money, to try to evade the necessary condicions of that production. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 67 

price. A single equation, such as 1 ton of iron = 2 ounces of 
gold, now suffices to express the value of the iron in a socially 
valid manner. There is no longer any need for this equation 
to figure as a link in the chain of equations that express the 
values of all other commodities, because the equivalent com 
modity, gold, now has the character of money. The general 
form of relative value has resumed its original shape of simple 
or isolated relative value. On the other hand, the expanded 
expression of relative value, the endless series of equations, has 
now become the form peculiar to the relative value of the 
money-commodity. The series itself, too, is now given, and 
has social recognition in the prices of actual commodities. We 
have only to read the quotations of a price-list backwards, to 
find the magnitude of the value of money expressed in all sorts 
of commodities. But money itself has no price. In order to 
put it on an equal footing with all other commodities in this 
respect, we should be obliged to equate it to itself as its own 

The price or money-form of commodities is, like their form 
of value generally, a form quite distinct from their palpable 
bodily form ; it is, therefore, a purely ideal or mental form. 
Although invisible, the value of iron, linen and corn has actual 
existence in these very articles : it is ideally made perceptible 
by their equality with gold, a relation that, so to say, exists 
only in their own heads. Their owner must, therefore, lend 
them his tongue, or hang a ticket on them, before their prices 
can be communicated to the outside world. 1 Since the ex 
pression of the value of commodities in gold is a merely ideal 

1 Savages and half -civilised races use the tongue differently. Captain Parry says 
of the inhabitants on the west coast of Baffin s Bay : "In this case (he refers to 
barter) they licked it (the thing represented to them) twice to their tongues, after 
which they seemed to consider the bargain satisfactorily concluded." In the same 
way, the Eastern Esquima i licked the articles they received in exchange. If the 
tongue is thus used in the North as the organ of appropriation, no wonder that, in 
the South, the stomach serves as the organ of accumulated property, and that a 
Kaffir estimates the wealth of a man by the size of his belly. That the Kaffirs know 
what they are about is shown by the following : at the same time that the official 
British Health Report of .864 disclosed the deficiency of fat-forming food among a 
large part of the working class, a certain Dr. Harvey (not, however, the celebrated 
discoverer of the circulation of the blood), made a good thing by advertising recipes 
for reducing the superflu us fat of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy. 

68 Capitalist Production. 

act, we may use for this purpose imaginary or ideal money. 
Every trader knows, that he is far from having turned his 
goods into money, when he has expressed their value in a price 
or in imaginary money, and that it does not require the least 
bit of real gold, to estimate in that metal millions of pounds 
worth of goods. When, therefore, money serves as a measure 
of value, it is employed only as imaginary or ideal money. 
This circumstance has given rise to the wildest theories. 1 But, 
although the money that performs the functions of a measure 
of value is only ideal money, price depends entirely upon the 
actual substance that is money. The value, or in other words, 
the quantity of human labour contained in a ton of iron, is- 
expressed in imagination by such a quantity of the money- 
commodity as contains the same amount of labour as the iron. 
According, therefore, as the measure of value is gold, silver, or 
copper, the value of the ton of iron will be expressed by very 
different prices, or will be represented by very different quan 
tities of those metals respectively. 

If, therefore, two different commodities, such as gold ana 
silver, are simultaneously measures of value, all commodities 
have two prices one a gold-price, the other a silver-price. 
These exist quietly side by side, so long as the ratio of the 
value of silver to that of gold remains unchanged, say, at 15 : 1. 
Every change in their ratio disturbs the ratio which exists 
between the gold-prices and the silver-prices of commodities, 
and thus proves, by facts, that a double standard of value is 
inconsistent with the functions of a standard.* 

1 See Karl Marx: Zur Kritik, &c. "Theorien von der Masseinheit des Geldes," 
p. 53, seq. 

2 "Wherever gold and silver have by law been made to perform the function of 
money or of a measure of value side by side, it has always been tried, but in vain, to 
treat them as one and the same material. To assume that there is an invariable 
ratio between the quantities of gold and silver in which a given quantity of labour- time 
is incorporated, is to assume, in fact, that gold and silver are of one and the same 
material, and that a given mass of the less valuable metal, silver, is a constant 
fraction of a given mass of gold. From the reign of Edward III. to the time of 
George II., the history of money in England consists of one long series of per 
turbations caused uy the clashing of the legally fixed ratio between the values of 
gold and silver, with the fluctuations in their real values. At one time gold was too 
high, at another, silver. The metal that for the time being was estimated below its 
value, was withdrawn from circulation, melted and exported. The ratio between 
the two metals was then ag^in altered by law, but the new nominal ratio soon came 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 69 

Commodities with definite prices present themselves under 
the form : a commodity A = x gold ; b commodity B = z gold; 
c commodity C = y gold, &c., where a, b, c, represent definite 
quantities of the commodities A, B, C and x, z, y, definite 
quantities of gold. The values of these commodities are, 
therefore, changed in imagination into so many different 
quantities of gold. Hence, in spite of the confusing variety of 
the commodities themselves, their values become magnitudes 


of the same denomination, gold-magnitudes. They are now 
capable of being compared with each other and measured, and 
the want becomes technically felt of comparing them with 
some fixed quantity of gold as a unit measure. This unit, by 
subsequent division into aliquot parts, becomes itself the 
standard or scale. Before they become money, gold, silver, 
and copper already possess such standard measures in their 
standards of weight, so that, for example, a pound weight, 
while serving as the unit, is, on the one hand, divisible into 
ounces, and, on the other, may be combined to make up 
hundredweights. 1 It is owing to this that, in all metallic 
currencies, the names given to the standards of money or of 
price were originally taken from the pre-existing names of the 
standards of weight. 

into conflict again with the real one. In our own times, the slight and transient 
fall in the value of gold compared with iilver, which was a consequence of the Indo- 
Chinese demand for silver, produced on a far more extended scale in France the same 
phenomena, export of silver, and its expulsion from circulation by gold. During 
the years 1855, 1856 and 1857, the excess in France of gold-imports over gold- 
exports amounted to 41,580,000, while the excess of silver-exports over silver- 
imports was 14,704,000. In fact, in those countries in which both metals are 
legally measures of value, and therefore both legal tender, so that everyone has the 
option of paying in either metal, the metal that rises in value is at a premium, and, 
like every other commodity, measures its price in the over-estimated metal which 
alone serves in reality as the standard of value. The result of all experience and 
history with regard to this question is simply that, where two commodities perform 
by law the functions of a measure of value, in practice one alone maintains that 
position." (Karl Marx, 1. c. pp. 52, 53.) 

1 The peculiar circumstance, that while the ounce of gold serves in England as the 
unit of the standard of money, the pound sterling does not form an aliquot part of it, 
has been explained as follows : " Our coinage was originally adapted to the employ 
ment of silver only, hence, an ounce of silver can always be divided into a certain 
adequate number of pieces of coin ; but as gold was introduced at a later period into 
a coinage adapted only to silver, an ounce of gold cannot be coined into an aliquot 
number of pieces." Maclaren, " A Sketch of the History of the Currency." London, 
1858, p. 16. 

70 Capitalist Production. 

As measure of value and as standard of price, money has two 
entirely distinct functions to perform. It is the measure 
of value inasmuch as it is the socially recognised incarnation 
of human labour ; it is the standard of price inasmuch as it is 
a fixed weight of metal. As the measure of value it serves to 
convert the values of all the manifold commodities into prices, 
into imaginary quantities of gold ; as the standard of price it 
measures those quantities of gold. The measure of values 
measures commodities considered as values ; the standard of 
price measures, on the contrary, quantities of gold by a unit 
quantity of gold, not the value of one quantity of gold by the 
weight of another. In order to make gold a standard of price, 
a certain weight must be fixed upon as the unit. In this case, 
as in all cases of measuring quantities of the same denomina 
tion, the establishment of an unvarying unit of measure is all- 
important. Hence, the less the unit is subject to variation, so 
much the better does the standard of price fulfil its office. But 
only in so far as it is itself a product of labour, and, therefore, 
potentially variable in value, can gold serve as a measure of 
valus. 1 

It is, in the first place, quite clear that a change in the value 
of gold does not, in any way, affect its function as a standard 
of price. No matter how this value varies, the proportions 
between the values of different quantities of the metal remain 
constant. However great the fall in its value, 12 ounces of 
gold still have 12 times the value of 1 ounce; and in prices, 
the only thing considered is the relation between different 
quantities of gold. Since, on the other hand, no rise or fall in 
the value of an ounce of gold can alter its weight, no alteration 
can take place in the weight of its aliquot parts. Thus gold 
always renders the same service as an invariable standard of 
price, however much its value may vary. 

In the second place, a change in the value of gold does not 
interfere with its functions as a measure of value. The change 
affects all commodities simultaneously, and, therefore, coeteris 
paribus, leaves their relative values inter se, unaltered, although 

1 With English writers the confusion between measure of value and standard of 
price (standard of value) is indescribable. Their functions, as well as their names, 
are constantly interchanged. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 71 

those values are now expressed in higher or lower gold- 

Just as when we estimate the value of any commodity by 
a definite quantity of the use-value of some other commodity, 
so in estimating the value of the former in gold, we assume 
nothing more than that the production of a given quantity of 
gold costs, at the given period, a given amount of labour. As 
regards the fluctuations of prices generally, they are subject to 
the laws of elementary relative value investigated in a former 

A general rise in the prices of commodities can result only, 
either from a rise in their values the value of money remain 
ing constant or from a fall in the value of money, the values 
of commodities remaining constant. On the other hand, a 
general fall in prices can result only, either from a fall in the 
values of commodities the value of money remaining con 
stant or from a rise in the value of money, the values of 
commodities remaining constant. It therefore by no means 
follows, that a rise in the value of money necessarily implies a 
proportional fall in the prices of commodities ; or that a fall in 
the value of money implies a proportional rise in prices. 
Such change of price holds good only in the case of com 
modities whose value remains constant. With those, for 
example, whose value rises, simultaneously with, and propor 
tionally to, that of money, there is no alteration in price. 
And if their value rise either slower or faster than that of 
money, the fall or rise in their prices will be determined by 
the difference between the change in their value and that of 
money; and so on. 

Let us now go back to the consideration of the price-form. 

By degrees there arises a discrepancy between the current 
money names of the various weights of the precious metal 
figuring as money, and the actual weights which those names 
originally represented. This discrepancy is the result of 
historical causes, among which the chief are : (1) The im 
portation of foreign money into an imperfectly developed 
community. This happened in Rome in its early days, where 
gold and silver coins circulated at first as foreign commodities. 

72 Capitalist Production. 

The names of these foreign coins never coincide with those of 
the indigenous weights. (2) As wealth increases, the less 
precious metal is thrust out by the more precious from its place 
as a measure of value, copper by silver, silver by gold, however 
much this order of sequence may be in contradiction with 
poetical chronology. l The word pound, for instance, was the 
money-name given to an actual pound weight of silver. When 
gold replaced silver as a measure of value, the same name was 
applied according to the ratio between the values of silver and 
gold, to perhaps 1-1 5th of a pound of gold. The word pound, 
as a money-name, thus becomes differentiated from the same 
word as a weight-name. 2 (3) The debasing of money carried 
on for centuries by kings and princes to such an extent that, of 
the original weights of the coins, nothing in fact remained but 
the names. 

These historical causes convert the separation of the money- 
name from the weight-name into an established habit with the 
community. Since the standard of money is on the one hand 
purely conventional, and must on the other hand find general 
acceptance, it is in the end regulated by law. A given weight 
of one of the precious metals, an ounce of gold, for instance, 
becomes officially divided into aliquot parts, with legally 
bestowed names, such as pound, dollar, &c. These aliquot 
parts, which thenceforth serve as units of money, are then sub 
divided into other aliquot parts with legal names, such as 
shilling, penny, &c. 4 But, both before and after these 
divisions are made, a definite weight of metal is the standard 
of metallic money. The sole alteration consists in the sub 
division and denomination. 

1 Moreover, it has not general historical validity. 

* It is thus that the pound sterling in English denotes less than one-third of ita 
original weight ; the pound Scot, before the union, only l-36th ; the French livre, 
l-74th ; the Spanish maravedi, less than l-1000th ; and the Portuguese rei a still 
smaller fraction. 

8 "Le monete le quali oggi sono ideali Bono le piu antiche d ogiii nazione, e tutte 
f urono un tempo reali, e perchd erano reali con esse si contava. " (Galiani : Delia 
moneta, 1. c., p. 153.) 

4 David Urquhart remarks in his "Familiar Words " on the monstrosity (!) that 
now-a-days a pound (sterling), which is the unit of the English standard of money, is 
equal to about a quarter of an ounce of gold. "This is falsifying a measure, not 
establishing a standard." He sees in this " false denomination " of the weight of 
gold, as in everything else, the falsifying hand of civilisation. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 73 

The prices, or quantities of gold, into which the values of 
commodities are ideally changed, are therefore now expressed 
in the names of coins, or in the legally valid names of the sub 
divisions of the gold standard. Hence, instead of saying : A 
quarter of wheat is worth an ounce of gold ; we say, it is worth 
3 17s. 10 d. In this way commodities express by their prices 
how much they are worth, and money serves as money of 
account whenever it is a question of fixing the value of an 
article in its money-form. * 

The name of a thing is something distinct from the qualities 
of that thing. I know nothing of a man, by knowing that his 
name is Jacob. In the same way with regard to money, every 
trace of a value-relation disappears in the names pound, dollar, 
franc, ducat, &c. The confusion caused by attributing a hidden 
meaning to these cabalistic signs is all the greater, because 
these money-names express both the values of commodities, 
and, at the same time, aliquot parts of the weight of the metal 
that is the standard of money. On the other hand, it is 
absolutely necessary that value, in order that it may be distin 
guished from the varied bodily forms of commodities, should 
assume this material and unmeaning, but, at the same time, 
purely social form. * 

1 When Anacharsia was asked for what purposes the Greeks used money, he re 
plied, "For reckoning." (Athen. Deipn. 1. ir. 49 v. 2. ed Schweighauser, 1802.) 

2 " Owing to the fact that money, when serving as the standard of price, appears 
under the same reckoning names as do the prices of commodities, and that therefore 
the sum of 3 17s. lOid. may signify on the one hand an ounce weight of gold, and 
on the other, the value of a ton of iron, this reckoning name of money has been 
called its mint-price. Hence there sprang up the extraordinary notion, that the 
value of gold is estimated in its own material, and that, in centra-distinction to all 
other commodities, its price is fixed by the State. It was erroneously thought that 
the giving of reckoning names to definite weights of gold, is the same thing as fixing 
the value of those weights." (Karl Marx. 1. c., p. 52.) 

3 See " Theorien von der Masseinheit des Geldes " in " Zur Kritik der Pol. Oekon. 
&c.," p. 53, seq. The fantastic notions about raising or lowering the mint-price of 
money by transferring to greater or smaller weights of gold or silver the names already 
legally appropriated to fixed weights of those metals ; such notions, at least in those 
cases in which they aim, not at clumsy financial operations against creditors, both 
public and private, but at economical quack remedies have been so exhaustively 
treated by "Wm. Petty in his " Quantulumcunque concerning money : To the Lord 
Marquis of Halifax, 1682," that even his immediate followers, Sir Dudley North and 
John Locke, not to mention later ones, could only dilute him. " If the wealth of a 
nation," he remarks, " could be decupled by a proclamation, it were strange that 
uch proclamations have not long since been made by our Governors." (1. c., p, 3G,| 

74 Capitalist Production. 

Price is the money-name of the labour realised in a commo 
dity. Hence the expression of the equivalence of a commodity 
with the sum of money constituting its price, is a tautology, 1 
just as in general the expression of the relative value of a 
commodity is a statement of the equivalence of two commodities. 
But although price, being the exponent of the magnitude of a 
commodity s value, is the exponent of its exchange-ratio with 
money, it does not follow that the exponent of this exchange- 
ratio is necessarily the exponent of the magnitude of the com 
modity s value. Suppose two equal quantities of socially 
necessary labour to be respectively represented by 1 quarter 
of wheat and 2 (nearly \ oz. of gold), 2 is the expression in 
money of the magnitude of the value of the quarter of wheat, 
or is its price. If now circumstances allow of this price being 
raised to 3, or compel it to be reduced to 1, then although 
1 and 3 may be too small or too great properly to express 
the magnitude of the wheat s value, nevertheless they are its 
prices, for they are, in the first place, the form under which its 
value appears, i.e., money ; and in the second place, the ex 
ponents df its exchange-ratio with money. If the conditions 
of production, in other words, if the productive power of labour 
remain constant, the same amount of social labour-time must, 
both before and after the change in price, be expended in the 
reproduction of a quarter of wheat. This circumstance de 
pends, neither on the will of the wheat producer, nor on that 
of the owners of other commodities. 

Magnitude of value expresses a relation of social production, 
it expresses the connection that necessarily exists between a 
certain article and the portion of the total labour-time of society 
required to produce it. As soon as magnitude of value is con 
verted into price, the above necessary relation takes the shape 
of a more or less accidental exchange-ratio between a single 
commodity and another, the money-commodity. But this ex 
change-ratio may express either the real magnitude of that 
commodity s value, or the quantity of gold deviating from that 
value, for which, according to circumstances, it may be parted 

1 "Ou Men, il faut consentir a dire qu une yaleur d un million en argent Taut plus 
qu tme raleur egale en marchandiseB." {Le Trosne 1. o. p. 919), which amounts to 
saying " qu une valour vaut plus qu une valenr female." 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 75 

with. The possibility, therefore, of quantitative incongruity 
between price and magnitude of value, or the deviation of the 
former from the latter, is inherent in the price-form itself. 
This is no defect, but, on the contrary, admirably adapts the 
price-form to a mode of production whose inherent laws impose 
themselves only as the mean of apparently lawless irregulari 
ties that compensate one another. 

Tho price-form, however, is not only compatible with the 
possibility of a quantitative incongruity between magnitude 
of value and price, i.e., between the former and its expression 
in money, but it may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency, so 
much so, that, although money is nothing but the value-form of 
commodities, price ceases altogether to express value. Objects 
that in themselves are no commodities, such as conscience, honour, 
&c., are capable of being offered for sale by their holders, and 
of thus acquiring, through their price, the form of commodities. 
Hence an object may have a price without having value. The 
price in that case is imaginary, like certain quantities in mathe 
matics. On the other hand, the imaginary price-form may 
sometimes conceal either a direct or indirect real value-relation; 
for instance, the price of uncultivated land, which is without 
value, because no human labour has been incorporated in it. 

Price, like relative value in general, expresses the value of 
a commodity (e.g., a ton of iron), by stating that a given quan 
tity of the equivalent (e.g., an ounce of gold), is directly ex 
changeable for iron. But it by no means states the converse, 
that iron is directly exchangeable for gold. In order, there 
fore, that a commodity may in practice act effectively as ex 
change value, it must quit its bodily shape, must transform it 
self from mere imaginary into real gold, although to the commo 
dity such transubstantiation may be more difficult than to the 
Hegelian " concept," the transition from " necessity >J to " free 
dom," or to a lobster the casting of his shell, or to Saint Jerome 
the putting off of the old Adam. 1 Though a commodity may, 

1 Jerome had to wrestle hard, not only in his youth with the bodily flesh, as ia 
shown by his fight in the desert with the handsome women of his imagination, but 
also in his old age with the spiritual flesh. " I thought," he says, "I was in the 
spirit before the Judge of the Universe." "Who art thou ? " asked a Toice. " I am 
a Christian." "Thou liest," thundered back the great Judge, "thou art nought but 
a Ciceronian." 

76 Capitalist Production. 

side by side with its actual form (iron, for instance), take in 
our imagination the form of gold, yet it cannot at one and the 
same time actually be both iron and gold. To fix its price, it 
suffices to equate it to gold in imagination. But to enable it to 
render to its owner the service of a universal equivalent, it 
must be actually replaced by gold. If the owner of the iron 
were to go to the owner of some other commodity offered for 
exchange, and were to refer him to the price of the iron as 
proof that it was already money, he would get the same 
answer as St. Peter gave in heaven to Dante, when the latter 
recited the creed 

" Assai bene & trascorsa 

D esta moneta gia la lega e l peso, 

Ma dimmi se tu 1 liai nella tua borsa. " 

A price therefore implies both that a commodity is exchange 
able for money, and also that it must be so exchanged. On 
the other hand, gold serves as an ideal measure of value, only 
because it has already, in the process of exchange, established 
itself as the money-commodity. Under the ideal measure of 
values there lurks the hard cash. 


a. The Metamorphosis of Commodities. 

We saw in a former chapter that the exchange of commodi 
ties implies contradictory and mutually exclusive conditions. 
The differentiation of commodities into commodities and money 
does not sweep away these inconsistencies, but develop es 
a modus vivendi, a form in which they can exist side by side. 
This is generally the way in which real contradictions are 
reconciled. For instance, it is a contradiction to depict one 
body as constantly falling towards another, and as, at the same 
time, constantly flying away from it. The ellipse is a form of 
motion which, while allowing this contradiction to go on, at the 
same time reconciles it. 

In so far as exchange is a process, by which commodities are 
transferred from hands in which they are non-use-values, to 
hands in which they become use- values, it is a social circula 
tion of matter. The product of one form of useful labour 

Jlfoney, or the Circulation of Commodities. 77 

replaces that of another. When once a commodity has found 
a resting-place, where it can serve as a use-value, it falls out 
of the sphere of exchange into that of consumption. But the 
former sphere alone interests us at present. We have, there 
fore, now to consider exchange from a formal point of view ; to 
investigate the change of form or metamorphosis of commodi 
ties which effectuates the social circulation of matter. 

The comprehension of this change of form is, as a rule, very 
imperfect. The cause of this imperfection is, apart from indis 
tinct notions of value itself, that every change of form in a 
commodity results from the exchange of two commodities, an 
ordinary one and the money-commodity. If we keep in view the 
material fact alone that a commodity has been exchanged for gold, 
we overlook the very thing that we ought to observe namely, 
what has happened to the form of the commodity. We overlook 
the facts that gold, when a mere commodity, is not money, and 
that when other commodities express their prices in gold, this 
gold is but the money-form of those commodities themselves. 

Commodities, first of all, enter into the process of exchange 
just as they are. The process then differentiates them into 
commodities and money, and thus produces an external oppo 
sition corresponding to the internal opposition inherent in 
them, as being at once use-values and values. Commodities as 
use-values now stand opposed to money as exchange value. 
On the other hand, both opposing sides are commodities, 
unities of use-value and value. But this unity of differences 
manifests itself at two opposite poles, and at each pole in an 
opposite way. Being poles they are as necessarily opposite as 
they are connected. On the one side of the equation we have 
an ordinary commodity, which is in reality a use-value. Its 
value is expressed only ideally in its price, by which it is 
equated to its opponent, the gold, as to the real embodiment 
of its value. On the other hand, the gold, in its metallic 
reality, ranks as the embodiment of value, as money. Gold, 
as gold, is exchange value itself. As to its use- value, that has 
only an ideal existence, represented by the series of expres 
sions of relative value in which it stands face to face with all 
other commodities, the sum of whose uses makes up the sum 

78 Capitalist Production. 

of the various uses of gold. These antagonistic forms of com 
modities are the real forms in which the process of their 
exchange moves and takes place. 

Let us now accompany the owner of some commodity say, 
our old friend the weaver of linen to the scene of action, the 
market. His 20 yards of linen has a definite price, 2. He 
exchanges it for the 2, and then, like a man of the good old 
stamp that he is, he parts with the 2 for a family Bible of the 
same price. The linen, which in his eyes is a mere commodity, 
a depository of value, he alienates in exchange for gold, which 
is the linen s value-form, and this form he again parts with for 
another commodity, the Bible, which is destined to enter his 
house as an object of utility and of edification to its inmates. 
The exchange becomes an accomplished fact by two metamor 
phoses of opposite yet supplementary character the conversion 
of the commodity into money, and the re-conversion of the 
money into a commodity. 1 The two phases of this metamor 
phosis are both of them distinct transactions of the weaver 
selling, or the exchange of the commodity for money ; buying, 
or the exchange of the money for a commodity ; and, the unity 
of the two acts, selling in order to buy. 

The result of the whole transaction, as regards the weaver, 
is this, that instead of being in possession of the linen, he now 
has the Bible ; instead of his original commodity, he now 
possesses another of the same value but of different utility. 
In like manner he procures his other means of subsistence and 
means of production. From his point of view, the whole process 
effectuates nothing more than the exchange of the product of 
his labour for the product of some one else s, nothing more than 
an exchange of products. 

The exchange of commodities is therefore accompanied by 
the following changes in their form. 

Commodity Money Commodity. 
C -- M -- C. 

The result of the whole process is, so far as concerns the 

* i 

rou ...... fvpof vr&fttifeti iraT, <*i<r* ^a*Xt/r;, xu 

trvif %pvfov %prif4T xui ^pnftKruv %pvfos." (F. Lassalle : Die Philosophic 
Herakleitog des Dunkeln. Berlin, 1845. Vol. I, p. 222.) Lassalla, in his note on 
this passage, p. 224, n. 3, erroneously makes gold a mere symbol of value. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 79 

objects themselves, C C, the exchange of one commodity for 
another, the circulation of materialised social labour. When 
this result is attained, the process is at an end. 

C M. First metamorphosis, or sale. 

The leap taken by value from the body of the commodity, 
into the body of the gold, is, as I have elsewhere called it, the 
sal to mortale of the commodity. If it falls short, then, although 
the commodity itself is not harmed, its owner decidedly is. 
The social division of labour causes his labour to be as one-sided 
as his wants are many-sided. This is precisely the reason why 
the product of his labour serves him solely as exchange value. 
But it cannot acquire the properties of a socially recognised 
universal equivalent, except by being converted into money. 
That money, however, is in some one else s pocket. In order to 
entice the,money out of that pocket, our friend s commodity 
must, above all things, be a use-value to the owner of the 
money. For this, it is necessary that the labour expended upon 
it, be of a kind that is socially useful, of a kind that constitutes 
a branch of the social division of labour. But division of labour 
is a system of production which has grown up spontaneously 
and continues to grow behind the backs of the producers. The 
commodity to be exchanged may possibly be the product of 
some new kind of labour, that pretends to satisfy newly arisen 
requirements, or even to give rise itself to new requirements. A 
particular operation, though yesterday, perhaps, forming one out 
of the many operations conducted by one producer in creating a 
given commodity, may to-day separate itself from this connection, 
may establish itself as an independent branch of labour and send 
its incomplete product to market as an independent commodity. 
The circumstances may or may not be ripe for such a separation. 
To-day the product satisfies asocial want. To-morrow the article 
may, either altogether or partially, be superseded by some other 
appropriate product. Moreover, although our weaver s labour 
may be a recognised branch of the social division of labour, 
yet that fact is by no means sufficient to guarantee the utility 
of his 20 yards of linen. If the community s want of linen, and 
such a want has a limit like every other want, should already 

So Capitalist Production. 

be saturated by the products of rival weavers, our friend s 
product is superfluous, redundant, and consequently useless. 
Although people do not look a gift-horse in the mouth, our 
friend does not frequent the market for the purpose of making 
presents. But suppose his product turn out a real use-value, 
and thereby attracts money ? The question arises, how much 
will it attract ? No doubt the answer is already anticipated 
in the price of the article, in the exponent of the magnitude of 
its value. We leave out of consideration here any accidental 
miscalculation of value by our friend, a mistake that is soon 
rectified in the market. We suppose him to have spent on his 
product only that amount of labour-time that is on an average 
socially necessary. The price then, is merely the money-name 
of the quantity of social labour realised in his commodity. But 
without the leave, and behind the back, of our weaver, the 
old fashioned mode of weaving undergoes a change. The labour- 
time that yesterday was without doubt socially necessary to 
the production of a yard of linen, ceases to be so to-day, a fact 
which the owner of the money is only too eager to prove from 
the prices quoted by our friend s competitors. Unluckily for 
him, weavers are not few and far between. Lastly, suppose 
that every piece of linen in the market contains no more labour- 
time than is socially necessary. In spite of this, all these pieces 
taken as a whole, may have had superfluous labour-time spent 
upon them. If the market cannot stomach the whole quantity 
at the normal price of 2 shillings a yard, this proves that too 
great a portion of the total labour of the community has been 
expended in the form of weaving. The effect is the same as if 
each individual weaver had expended more labour- time upon 
his particular product than is socially necessary. Here we may 
say, with the German proverb : caught together, hung together. 
All the linen in the market counts but as one article of commerce, 
of which each piece is only an aliquot part. And as a matter 
of fact, the value also of each single yard is but the materialised 
form of the same definite and socially fixed quantity of homo 
geneous human labour. 

We see then, commodities are in love with money, but " the 
course of true love never did run smooth." The quantitative 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 81 

division of labour is brought about in exactly the same spon 
taneous and accidental manner as its qualitative division. The 
owners of commodities therefore find out, that the same divi 
sion of labour that turns them into independent private 
producers, also frees the social process of production and the 
relations of the individual producers to each other within that 
process, from all dependence on the will of those producers, 
and that the seeming mutual independence of the individuals is 
supplemented by a system ot general and mutual dependence 
through or by means of the products. 

The division of labour converts the product of labour into a 
commodity, and thereby makes necessary its further conversion 
into money. At the same time it also makes the accomplish 
ment of this trans-substantiation quite accidental Here, how 
ever, we are only concerned with the phenomenon in its 
integrity, and we therefore assume its progress to be normal. 
Moreover, if the conversion take place at all, that is, if the 
commodity be not absolutely unsaleable, its metamorphosis 
does take place although the price realised may be abnormally 
above or below the value. 

The seller has his commodity replaced by gold, the buyer 
has his gold replaced by a commodity. The fact which here 
stares us in the face is, that a commodity and gold, 20 yards 
of linen and 2, have changed hands and places, in other words, 
that they have been exchanged. But for what is the com 
modity exchanged? For the shape assumed by its own value, 
for the universal equivalent. And for what is the gold 
exchanged ? For a particular form of its own use-value. 
Why does gold take the form of money face to face with the 
linen ? Because the linen s price of 2, its denomination in 
money, has already equated the linen to gold in its character 
of money. A commodity strips off its original commodity-form 
on being alienated, i.e., on the instant its use-value actually 
attracts the gold, that before existed only ideally in its price. 
The realisation of a commodity s price, or of its ideal value- 
form, is therefore at the same time the realisation of the ideal 
use- value of money; the conversion of a commodity into 
money, is the simultaneous conversion of money into a com- 


82 Capitalist Production. 

modity. The apparently single process is in reality a double 
one. From the pole of the commodity owner it is a sale, from 
the opposite pole of the money owner, it is a purchase. In 
other words, a sale is a purchase, C M is also M C. 1 

Up to this point we have considered men in only one econo 
mical capacity, that of owners of commodities, a capacity in 
which they appropriate the produce of the labour of others, by 
alienating that of their own labour. Hence, for one commodity 
owner to meet with another who has money, it is necessary, 
either, that the product of the labour of the latter person, the 
buyer, should be in itself money, should be gold, the material 
of which money consists, or that his product should already 
have changed its skin and have stripped off its original form 
of a useful object. In order that it may play the part ot 
money, gold must of course enter the market at some point or 
other. This point is to be found at the source of production 
of the metal, at which place gold is bartered, as the immediate 
product of labour, for some other product of equal value. 
From that moment it always represents the realised price of 
some commodity. 8 Apart from its exchange for other com 
modities at the source of its production, gold, in whose-so-ever 
hands it may be, is the transformed shape of some commodity 
alienated by its owner; it is the product of a sale or of the first 
metamorphosis C M. 8 Gold, as we saw, became ideal money, 
or a measure of values, in consequence of all commodities 
measuring their values by it, and thus contrasting it ideally 
with their natural shape as useful objects, and making it the 
shape of their value. It became real money, by the general 
alienation of commodities, by actually changing places with their 
natural forms as useful objects, and thus becoming in reality 
the embodiment of their values. When they assume- this 
money-shape, commodities strip off every trace of their natural 
use-value, and of the particular kind of labour to which they 

1 "Toute vente est achat." (Dr. Quesnay : "Dialogues sur le Commerce et lea 
Travaux des Artisans." Physiocrates ed. Daire I. Partie, Paris, 1846, p. 170), or as 
Quesnay in hia " Maximes general es " puts it, " Vendre eat acheter." 

2 " Le prix d une rnarchandise nepouvant etre paye que par le prix d uneautre mar- 
chandise." (Mercier de la Riviere : L Ordre naturel et essentiel des societes poli 
tiques." Physiocrates, ed. Daire II. Partie, p. 554). 

8 "Pour avoir cet argent, il faut avoir vendu," 1. c., p. 543. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 83 

owe their creation, in order to transform themselves into the 
uniform, socially recognised incarnation of homogeneous human 
labour. We cannot tell from the mere look of a piece of 
money, for what particular commodity it has been exchanged. 
Under their money -form all commodities look alike. Hence, 
money may be dirt, although dirt is not money. We will 
assume that the two gold pieces, in consideration of which our 
weaver has parted with his linen, are the metamorphosed shape 
of a quarter of wheat. The sale of the linen, C M, is at the 
same time its purchase, M C. But the sale is the first act of 
a process that ends with a transaction of an opposite nature, 
namely, the purchase of a Bible ; the purchase of the linen, on 
the other hand, ends a movement that began with a transac 
tion of an opposite nature, namely, with the sale of the wheat. 
G M (linen -money), which is the first phase of C M G 
(linen money Bible), is also M C (money linen), the last 
phase of another movement C M C (wheat money linen). 
The first metamorphosis of one commodity, its transforma 
tion from a commodity into money, is therefore also invariably 
the second metamorphosis of some other commodity, the re- 
transformation of the latter from money into a commodity. 1 

M (7, or purchase. The second and concluding metamor 
phosis of a commodity. 

Because money is the metamorphosed shape of all other 
commodities, the result of their general alienation, for this 
reason it is alienable itself without restriction or condition. 
It reads all prices backwards, and thus, so to say, depicts itself 
in the bodies of all other commodities, which offer to it the 
material for the realisation of its own use-value. At the same 
time the prices, wooing glances cast at money by commodities, 
define the limits of its convertibility, by pointing to its quantity. 
Since every commodity, on becoming money, disappears as a 
commodity, it is impossible to tell from the money itself, how 
it got into the hands of its possessor, or what article has been 
changed into it. Non olet, from whatever source it may come. 

1 As before remarked, the actual producer of gold or silver forms an exception. H 
-exchanges his product directly for another commodity, without having first sold it. 

84 Capitalist Production* 

Representing on the one hand a sold commodity, it represents 
on the other a commodity to be bought. 1 

M C, a purchase, is, at the same time, C M, a sale ; the con 
cluding metamorphosis of one commodity is the first metamor 
phosis of another. With regard to our weaver, the life of his 
commodity ends with the Bible, into which he has reconverted 
his 2. But suppose the seller of the Bible turns the 2 set 
free by the weaver into brandy. M C, the concluding phase 
of C M G (linen, money, Bible), is also C M, the first phase 
of C M C (Bible, money, brandy). The producer of a par 
ticular commodity has that one article alone to offer ; this he 
sells very often in large quantities, but his many and various 
wants compel him to split up the price realised, the sum of 
money set free, into numerous purchases. Hence a sale leads 
to many purchases of various articles. The concluding meta 
morphosis of a commodity thus constitutes an aggregation of 
first metamorphoses of various other commodities. 

If we now consider the completed metamorphosis of a com 
modity, as a whole, it appears in the first place, that it is made 
up of two opposite and complementary movements, C M and 
M C. These two antithetical transmutations of a commodity 
are brought about by two antithetical social acts on the part 
of the owner, and these acts in their turn stamp the character 
of the economical parts played by him. As the person who 
makes a sale, he is a seller ; as the person who makes a pur 
chase, he is a buyer. But just as, upon every such transmu 
tation of a commodity, its two forms, commodity-form and 
money-form, exist simultaneously but at opposite poles, so 
every seller has a buyer opposed to him, and every buyer a 
seller. While one particular commodity is going through its 
two transmutations in succession, from a commodity into 
money and from money into another commodity, the owner of 
the commodity changes in succession his part from that of 
seller to that of buyer. These characters of seller and buyer 
are therefore not permanent, but attach themselves in turns to 
the various persons engaged in the circulation of commodities. 

1 " Si 1 argcnt repr6sente, dans nos mains, les choses que nous pouvons d6sirer 
d acheter, il y repr6eente aussi les choses que nous avons vendues pour cet argeut 
(Mercier de la Riviere 1. c. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 85 

The complete metamorphosis of a commodity, in its simplest 
form, implies four extremes, and three dramatis personae. 
First, a commodity comes face to face with money ; the latter 
is the form taken by the value of the former, and exists in all 
its hard reality, in the pocket of the buyer. A commodity- 
owner is thus brought into contact with a possessor of money. 
So soon, now, as the commodity has been changed into 
money, the money becomes its transient equivalent- form, the 
use-value of which equivalent-form is to be found in the 
bodies of other commodities. Money, the final term of the 
first transmutation, is at the same time the starting point for 
the second. The person who is a seller in the first transac 
tion thus becomes a buyer in the second, in which a third 
commodity- owner appears on the scene as a seller. 1 

The two phases, each inverse to the other, that make up the 
metamorphosis of a commodity constitute together a circular 
movement, a circuit: commodity-form, stripping off of this 
form, and return to the commodity-form. No doubt, the com 
modity appears here under two different aspects. At the start 
ing point it is not a use- value to its owner ; at the finishing 
point it is. So, too, the money appears in the first phase as a 
solid crystal of value, a crystal into which the commodity 
eagerly solidifies, and in the second, dissolves into the mere 
transient equivalent-form destined to be replaced by a use- 

The two metamorphoses constituting the circuit are at the 
same time two inverse partial metamorphoses of two other 
commodities. One and the same commodity, the linen, opens the 
series of its own metamorphoses, and completes the metamor 
phosis of another (the wheat). In the first phase or sale, the linen 
plays these two parts in its own person. But, then, changed 
into gold, it completes its own second and final metamorphosis, 
and helps at the same time to accomplish the first metamor 
phosis of a third commodity. Hence the circuit made by one 
commodity in the course of its metamorphoses is inextricably 
mixed up with the circuits of other commodities. The total 

II y a done . . . quatre termes et trois contractants* dont 1 un intervient deux 
iois " (Le Trosi> ve i c p 900 ^ 

86 Capitalist Production. 

of all the different circuits constitutes ike circulation of com 

The circulation of commodities differs from the direct ex 
change of products (barter), not only in form, but in substance. 
Only consider the course of events. The weaver has, as a 
matter of fact, exchanged his linen for a Bible, his own com 
modity for that of some one else. But this is true only so far 
as he himself is concerned. The seller of the Bible, who prefers 
something to warm his inside, no more thought of exchanging 
his Bible for linen than our weaver knew that wheat had been 
exchanged for his linen. B s commodity replaces that of A, 
but A and B do not mutually exchange those commodities. 
It may, of course, happen that A and B make simultaneous 
purchases, the one from the other ; but such exceptional trans 
actions are by no means the necessary result of the general con 
ditions of the circulation of commodities. We see here, on 
the one hand, how the exchange of commodities breaks through 
all local and personal bounds inseparable from direct barter, and 
develops the circulation of the products of social labour ; and 
on the other hand, how it develops a whole network of social 
relations spontaneous in their growth and entirely beyond the 
control of the actors. It is only because the farmer has sold 
his wheat that the weaver is enabled to sell his linen, only 
because the weaver has sold his linen that our Hotspur is 
enabled to sell his Bible, and only because the latter has sold 
the water of everlasting life that the distiller is enabled to sell 
his eau-de-vie, and so on. 

The process of circulation, therefore, does not, like direct 
barter of products, become extinguished upon the use values 
changing places and hands. The money does not vanish on 
dropping out of the circuit of the metamorphosis of a given 
commodity. It is constantly being precipitated into new 
places in the arena of circulation vacated by other commodities,. 
In the complete metamorphosis of the linen, for example, linen 
money Bible, the linen first falls out of circulation, and money 
steps into its place. Then the Bible falls out of circulation, and 
again money takes its place. When one commodity replaces 
another, the money commodity always sticks to the hands of 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 87 

some third person. * Circulation sweats money from every 

Nothing can be more childish than the dogma, that because 
every sale is a purchase, and every purchase a sale, therefore 
the circulation of commodities necessarily implies an equili 
brium of sales and purchases. If this means that the number 
of actual sales is equal to the number of purchases, it is mere 
tautology. But its real purport is to prove that every seller 
brings his buyer to market with him. Nothing of the kind. 
The sale and the purchase constitute one identical act, an 
exchange between a commodity-owner and an owner of money, 
between two persons as opposed to each other as the two poles 
of a magnet. They form two distinct acts, of polar and 
opposite characters, when performed by one single person. 
Hence the identity of sale and purchase implies that the 
Commodity is useless, if, on being thrown into the alchemistical 
1 retort of circulation, it does not come out again in the shape 
of money; if, in other words, it cannot be sold by its owner, and 
therefore be bought by the owner of the money. That identity 
further implies that the exchange, if it do take place, constitutes 
a period of rest, an interval, long or short, in the life of the 
commodity. Since the first metamorphosis of a commodity is 
at once a sale and a purchase, it is also an independent process 
in itself. The purchaser has the commodity, the seller has the 
money, i.e., a commodity ready to go into circulation at any 
time. No one can sell unless some one else purchases. But no 
one is forthwith bound to purchase, because he has just sold. 
Circulation bursts through all restrictions as to time, place, and 
individuals, imposed by direct barter, and this it effects by 
splitting up, into the antithesis of a sale and a purchase, the 
direct identity that in barter does exist between the alienation 
of one s own and the acquisition of some other man s product. 
To say that these two independent and antithetical acts have 
an intrinsic unity, are essentially one, is the same as to say 
that this intrinsic oneness expresses itself in an external 
antithesis. If the interval in time between the two comple- 

1 Self-evident as thia may be, it is nevertheless for the most part unobserved by 
political economists, and especially by the "Freetrader Vulgaris." 


88 Capitalist Production. 

mentary phases of the complete metamorphosis of a commodity 
become too great, if the split between the sale and the purchase 
become too pronounced, the intimate connexion between them, 
their oneness, asserts itself by producing a crisis. The 
antithesis, use- value and value ; the contradictions that private 
labour is bound to manifest itself as direct social labour, that a 
particularized concrete kind of labour has to pass for abstract 
human labour; the contradiction between the personification 
of objects and the representation of persons by things ; all these 
antitheses and contradictions, which are immanent in com 
modities, assert themselves, and develop their modes of motion, 
in the antithetical phases of the metamorphosis of a commodity. 
These modes therefore imply the possibility, and no more than 
the possibility, of crises. The conversion of this mere possibility 
into a reality is the result of a long series of relations, that, 
from our present standpoint of simple circulation, have as yet 
no existence. l 

b The curWncy* of money. 

The change of form, C M C, by which the circulation of 
the material products of labour is brought about, requires that 
a given value in the shape of a commodity shall begin the pro 
cess, and shall, also in the shape of a commodity, end it. The 
movement of the commodity is therefore a circuit. On the 
other hand, the form of this movement precludes a circuit from 

1 See my observations on James Mill in " Zur Kritik, &c.," p. 74-76. With regaru 
to this subject, we may notice two methods characteristic of apologetic economy. The 
first is the identification of the circulation of commodities with the direct barter of 
products, by simple abstraction from their points of difference ; the second is, the 
attempt to explain away the contradictions of capitalist production, by reducing the 
relations between the persons engaged in that mode of production, to the simple rela 
tions arising out of the circulation of commodities. The production and circulation 
of commodities are, however, phenomena that occur to a greater or less extent in 
modes of production the most diverse. If we are acquainted with nothing but the 
abstract categories of circulation, which are common to all these modes of production, 
we cannot possibly know anything of the specific points of difference of those modes, 
nor pronounce any judgment upon them. In no science is such a big fuss made with 
commonplace truisms as in political economy. For instance, J. B. Say sets himself 
up as a judge of crises, because, forsooth, he knows that a commodity is a product. 

2 Translator s note. This word is here used in its original signification of the 
course or track pursued by money as it changes from hand to hand, a course which 
essentially differs from circulation. 

Jlfon?y t or the Circulation of Commodities. 89 

"being made by the money. The result is not the return of the 
money, but its continued removal further and further away 
from its starting-point. So long as the seller sticks fast to his 
money, which is the transformed shape of his commodity, that 
commodity is still in the first phase of its metamorphosis, and 
has completed only half its course. But so soon as he com 
pletes the process, so soon as he supplements his sale by a pur 
chase, the money again leaves the hands of its possessor. It 
is true that if the weaver, after buying the Bible, sell more linen, 
money comes back into his hands. But this return is not 
owing to the circulation of the first 20 yards of linen ; that cir 
culation resulted in the money getting into the hands of the 
seller of the Bible. The return of money into the hands of the 
weaver is brought about only by the renewal or repetition of 
the process of circulation with a fresh commodity, which 
renewed process ends with the same result as its predecessor 
did. Hence the movement directly imparted to money by the 
circulation of commodities takes the form of a constant motion 
away from its starting-point, of a course from the hands of one 
commodity owner into those of another. This course consti 
tutes its currency (cours de la monnaie). 

The currency of money is the constant and monotonous re 
petition of the same process. The commodity is always in the 
hands of the seller ; the money, as a means of purchase, always 
in the hands of the buyer. And money serves as a means of 
purchase by realising the price of the commodity. This reali 
sation transfers the commodity from the seller to the buyer, 
and removes the money from the hands of the buyer into those 
of the seller, where it again goes through the same process with 
another commodity. That this one-sided character of the 
money s motion arises out of the two-sided character of the 
commodity s motion, is a circumstance that is veiled over. The 
very nature of the circulation of commodities begets the op 
posite appearance. The first metamorphosis of a commodity is 
visibly, not only the money s movement, but also that of the 
commodity itself ; in the second metamorphosis, on the con 
trary, the movement appears to us as the movement of the 
money alone. In the first phase of its circulation the coin- 

90 Capitalist Production. 

modity changes place with the money. Thereupon the com 
modity, under its aspect of a useful object, falls out of 
circulation into consumption. 1 In its stead we have its value- 
shape the money. It then goes through the second phase of 
its circulation, not under its own natural shape, but under the 
shape of money. The continuity of the movement is therefore 
kept up by the money alone, and the same movement that as 
regards the commodity consists of two processes of an anti 
thetical character, is, when considered as the movement of 
the money, always one and the same process, a continued 
change of places with ever fresh commodities. Hence the 
result brought about by the circulation of commodities, namely,, 
the replacing of one commodity by another, takes the appear 
ance of having been effected not by means of the change of 
form of the commodities, but rather by the money acting as a 
medium of circulation, by an action that circulates commodi 
ties, to all appearance motionless in themselves, and transfers 
them from hands in which they are non-use-values, to hands in 
which they are use-values ; and that in a direction constantly 
opposed to the direction of the money. The latter is con 
tinually withdrawing commodities from circulation and step 
ping into their places, and in this way continually moving 
further and further from its starting-point. Hence, although 
the movement of the money is merely the expression of 
the circulation of commodities, yet the contrary appears to be 
the actual fact, and the circulation of commodities seems to be 
the result of the movement of the money. 8 

Again, money functions as a means of circulation, only 
because in it the values of commodities have independent 
reality. Hence its movement, as the medium of circulation, is, 
in fact, merely the movement of commodities while changing 
their forms. This fact must therefore make itself plainly visible 
in the currency of money. The twofold change of form in a 

1 Even when the commodity is sold over and over again, a phenomenon that at 
present has no existence for us, it falls, when definitely sold for the last time, out of 
the sphere of circulation into that of consumption, where it serves either as means of 
subsistence or means of production. 

2 "E. (1 argent) n a d autre mouvement que celui qui lui est imprime par les pro 
ductions." (Le Trosnel.c.p. 885.) 

Money ^ or the Circulation of Commodities. 9 1 

commodity is reflected in the twice repeated change of place of 
the same piece of money during the complete metamorphosis of 
a commodity, and in its constantly repeated change of place, 
as metamorphosis follows metamorphosis, and each becomes 
interlaced with the others. 

The linen, for instance, first of all exchanges its commodity- 
form for its money -form. The last term of its first metamor 
phosis (C M), or the money-form, is the first term of its final 
metamorphosis (M 0), of its re-conversion into a useful commo 
dity, the Bible. But each of these changes of form is accom 
plished by an exchange between commodity and money, by 
their reciprocal displacement. The same pieces of coin, in the 
first act, changed places with the linen, in the second, with the 
Bible. They are displaced twice. The first metamorphosis 
puts them into the weaver s pocket, the second draws them out 
of it. The two inverse changes undergone by the same com 
modity are reflected in the displacement, twice repeated, but 
in opposite directions, of the same pieces of coin. 

If, on the contrary, only one phase of the metamorphosis is 
gone through, if there are only sales or only purchases, then a 
given piece of money changes its place only once. Its second 
change corresponds to and expresses the second metamorphosis 
of the commodity, its re-conversion from money into another 
commodity intended for use. It is a matter of course, that all 
this is applicable to the simple circulation of commodities 
alone, the only form that we are now considering. 

Every commodity, when it first steps into circulation, and 
undergoes its first change of form, does so only to fall out of 
circulation again and to be replaced by other commodities. 
Money, on the contrary, as the medium of circulation, keeps 
continually within the sphere of circulation, and moves about 
in it. The question therefore arises, how much money this 
sphere constantly absorbs ? 

In a given country there take place every day at the same 
time, but in different localities, numerous one-sided metamor 
phoses of commodities, or, in other words, numerous sales and 
numerous purchases. The commodities are equated before 
hand in imagination, by their prices, to definite quantities of 

92 Capitalist Production. 

money. And since, in the form of circulation now under con 
sideration, money and commodities always come bodily face to 
face, one at the positive pole of purchase, the other at the 
negative pole of sale, it is clear that the amount of the means 
of circulation required, is determined beforehand by the sum of 
the prices of all these commodities. As a matter of fact, the 
money in reality represents the quantity or sum of gold ideally 
expressed beforehand by the sum of the prices of the com 
modities. The equality of these two sums is therefore self- 
evident. We know, however, that, the values of commodities 
remaining constant, their prices vary with the value of gold 
(the material of money), rising in proportion as it falls, and 
falling in proportion as it rises. Now if, in consequence of 
such a rise or fall in the value of gold, the sum of the prices of 
commodities fall or rise, the quantity of money in currency 
must fall or rise to the same extent. The change in the 
quantity of the circulating medium is, in this case, it is true, 
caused by the money itself, yet not in virtue of its function 
as a medium of circulation, but of its function as a measure of 
value. First, the price of the commodities varies inversely 
as the value of the money, and then the quantity of the 
medium of circulation varies directly as the price of the 
commodities. Exactly the same thing would happen if, for 
instance, instead of the value of gold falling, gold were replaced 
by silver as the measure of value, or if, instead of the value of 
silver rising, gold were to thrust silver out from being the 
measure of value. In the one case, more silver would be 
current than gold was before ; in the other case, less gold 
would be current than silver was before. In each case the 
value of the material of money, i.e., the value of the com 
modity that serves as the measure of value, would have under 
gone a change, and therefore so, too, would the prices of com 
modities which express their values in money, and so, too, 
would the quantity of money current whose function it is to 
realise those prices. We have already seen, that the sphere of 
circulation has an opening through which gold (or the material 
of money generally) enters into it as a commodity with a given 
value Hence, when money enters on its functions as a 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 93 

measure of value, when it expresses prices, its value is already 
determined. If now its value fall, this fact is first evidenced 
by a change in the prices of those commodities that are 
directly bartered for the precious metals at the sources of 
their production. The greater part of all other commodities, 
especially in the imperfectly developed stages of civil society, 
will continue for a long time to be estimated by the former 
antiquated and illusory value of the measure of value. 
Nevertheless, one commodity infects another through their 
common value-relation, so that their prices, expressed in gold 
or in silver, gradually settle down into the proportions deter 
mined by their comparative values, until finally the values of 
all commodities are estimated in terms of the new value of the 
metal that constitutes money. This process is accompanied by 
the continued increase in the quantity of the precious metals, 
an increase caused by their streaming in to replace the articles 
directly bartered for them at their sources of production. In 
proportion therefore as commodities in general acquire their 
true prices, in proportion as their values become estimated 
according to the fallen value of the precious metal, in the 
same proportion the quantity of that metal necessary for realis 
ing those new prices is provided beforehand. A one-sided 
observation of the results that followed upon the discovery of 
fresh supplies of gold and silver, led some economists in the 
17th, and particularly in the 18th century, to the false con 
clusion, that the prices of commodities had gone up in conse 
quence of the increased quantity of gold and silver serving as 
means of circulation. Henceforth we shall consider the value 
of gold to be given, as, in fact, it is momentarily whenever we 
estimate the price of a commodity. 

On this supposition then, the quantity of the medium of 
circulation is determined by the sum of the prices that have to 
be realised. If now we further suppose the price of each com 
modity to be given, the sum of the prices clearly depends on 
the mass of commodities in circulation. It requires but little 
racking of brains to comprehend that if one quarter of wheat 
costs 2, 100 quarters will cost 200, 200 quarters 400, and 
BO on, that consequently the quantity of money that changes 

94 Capitalist Production. 

place with the wheat, when sold, must increase with the quan 
tity of that wheat. 

If the mass of commodities remain constant, the quantity of 
circulating money varies with the fluctuations in the prices of 
those commodities. It increases and diminishes because the 
sum of the prices increases or diminishes in consequence of the 
change of price. To produce this effect, it is by no means 
requisite that the prices of all commodities should rise or fall 
simultaneously. A rise or a fall in the prices of a number of 
leading articles, is sufficient in the one case to inciease, in the 
other to dimmish, the sum of the prices of all commodities, 
and, therefore, to put more or less money in circulation. 
Whether the change in the price correspond to an actual 
change of value in the commodities, or whether it be the result 
of mere fluctuations in market prices, the effect on the quan 
tity of the medium of circulation remains the same. 

Suppose the following articles to be sold or partially meta 
morphosed simultaneously in different localities : say, one 
quarter of wheat, 20 yards of linen, one Bible, and 4 gallons of 
brandy. If the price of each article be 2, and the sum of the 
prices to be realised be consequently 8, it follows that 8 in 
money must go into circulation. If, on the other hand, these 
same articles are links in the following chain of metamorphoses : 
1 quarter of wheat 2 20 yards of linen 2 1 Bible 
2 4 gallons of brandy 2, a chain that is already well- 
known to us, in that case the 2 cause the different com 
modities to circulate one after the other, and after realizing 
their prices successively, and therefore the sum of those prices, 
8, they come to rest at last in the pocket of the distiller. The 
2 thus make four moves. This repeated change of place of the 
same pieces of money corresponds to the double change in form 
of the commodities, to their motion in opposite directions 
through two stages of circulation, and to the interlacing of the 
metamorphoses of different commodities. 1 These antithetic and 
complementary phases, of which the process of metamorphosis 

1 "Ce sont les productions qui le (1 argent) mettent en mouvement et le font 
circuler ... La celerite" de son mouvement (so. de 1 argent) supplee a sa quantite 
Lorsqu il en eat besoin, il ne fait que glisser d une main dans 1 autre sans s aricter un 
instant." (Le Trosne 1. o. pp. 915, 916.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 95 

consists, are gone through, not simultaneously, but successively. 
Time is therefore required for the completion of the series. 
Hence the velocity of the currency of money is measured by 
the number of moves made by a given piece of money in a 
given time. Suppose the circulation of the 4 articles takes a 
day. The sum of the prices to be realised in the day is 8, 
the number of moves of the two pieces of money is four, and 
the quantity of money circulating is 2. Hence, for a given 
interval of time during the process of circulation, we have the 
following relation : the quantity of money functioning as the 
circulating medium is equal to the sum of the prices of the 
commodities divided by the number of moves made by coins 
of the same denomination. This law holds generally. 

The total circulation of commodities in a given country 
during a given period is made up on the one hand of numerous 
isolated and simultaneous partial metamorphoses, sales which 
are at the same time purchases, in which each coin changes its 
place only once, or makes only one move ; on the other hand, 
of numerous distinct series of metamorphoses partly running 
side by side, and partly coalescing with each other, in each of 
which series each coin makes a number of moves, the number 
being greater or less according to circumstances. The total 
number of moves made by all the circulating coins of one 
denomination being given, we can arrive at the average num 
ber of moves made by a single coin of that denomination, or at 
the average velocity of the currency of money. The quantity 
of money thrown into the circulation at the beginning of each 
day is of course determined by the sum of the prices of all the 
commodities circulating simultaneously side by side. But once 
in circulation, coins are, so to say, made responsible for one 
another. If the one increase its velocity, the other either 
retards its own, or altogether falls out of circulation ; for the 
circulation can absorb only such a quantity of gold as when 
multiplied by the mean number of moves made by one single 
coin or element, is equal to the sum of the prices to be rea 
lised. Hence if the number of moves made by the separate 
pieces increase, the total number of those pieces in circulation 
diminishes. If the number of the moves diminish, the total 

96 Capitalist Prodiiction. 

number of pieces increases. Since the quantity of money cap 
able of being absorbed by the circulation is given for a given 
mean velocity of currency, all that is necessary in order to 
abstract a given number of sovereigns from the circulation is to 
throw the same number of one-pound notes into it, a trick well 
known to all bankers. 

Just as the currency of money, generally considered, is but 
a reflex of the circulation of commodities, or of the antithetical 
metamorphoses they undergo, so, too, the velocity of that cur 
rency reflects the rapidity with which commodities change 
their forms, the continued interlacing of one series of meta 
morphoses with another, the hurried social interchange of 
matter, the rapid disappearance of commodities from the 
sphere of circulation, and the equally rapid substitution of 
fresh ones in their places. Hence, in the velocity of the cur 
rency we have the fluent unity of the antithetical and com 
plementary phases, the unity of the conversion of the useful 
aspect of commodities into their value-aspect, and their re-con 
version from the latter aspect to the former, or the unity of the 
two processes of sale and purchase. On the other hand, the 
retardation of the currency reflects the separation of these two 
processes into isolated antithetical phases, reflects the stagna 
tion in the change of form, and therefore, in the social inter 
change of matter. The circulation itself, of course, gives no 
clue to the origin of this stagnation ; it merely puts in evidence 
the phenomenon itself. The general public, who, simultane 
ously, with the retardation of the currency, see money appear 
and disappear less frequently at the periphery of circulation, 
naturally attribute this retardation to a quantitative deficiency 
in the circulating medium. 1 

i Money being. . . the common measure of buying and selling, every body who 
hath anything to sell, and cannot procure chapmen for it, is presently apt to think, 
that want of money in the kingdom, or country, is the cause why his goods do not 
go off ; and so, want of money is the common cry ; which is a great mistake. . . 
What do these people want, who cry out for money ? . . . The farmer complains 
... he thinks that were more money in the country, he should have a price for his 
goods. Then it seems money is not his want, but a price for his corn and cattel, which 
he would sell, but cannot. . . Why cannot he get a price ?...(!) Either there is 
too much corn and cattel in the country, so that most who come to market have 
need of selling, as he hath, and few of buying ; or (2) There wants the usual vent 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 97 

The total quantity of money functioning during a given 
period as the circulating medium, is determined, on the one 
hand, by the sum of the prices of the circulating commodities, 
and on the other hand, by the rapidity with which the anti 
thetical phases of the metamorphoses follow one another. On 
this rapidity depends what proportion of the sum of the prices 
can, on the average, be realised by each single coin. But the 
sum of the prices of the circulating commodities depends on 
the quantity, as well as on the prices, of the commodities. 
These three factors, however, state of prices, quantity of circu 
lating commodities, and velocity of money-currency, are all 
variable. Hence, the sum of the prices to be realised, and 
consequently the quantity of the circulating medium depend 
ing on that sum, will vary with the numerous variations of 
these three factors in combination. Of these variations we 
shall consider those alone that have been the most important 
in the history of prices. 

While prices remain constant, the quantity of the circulat 
ing medium may increase owing to the number of circulating 
commodities increasing, or to the velocity of currency decreas 
ing, or to a combination of the two. On the other hand the 
quantity of the circulating medium may decrease with a 
decreasing number of commodities, or with an increasing 
rapidity of their circulation. 

With a general rise in the prices of commodities, the quantity 
of the circulating medium will remain constant, provided the 
number of commodities in circulation decrease proportionally 

abroad by transportation. . . ; or (3) The consumption fails, as when men, by reason 
of poverty, do not spend so much in their houses as formerly they did ; wherefore it 
is not the increase of specific money, which would at all advance the farmer s goods, 
but the removal of any of these three causes, which do truly keep down the market. 
. . . The merchant and shopkeeper want money in the same manner, that is, they 
want a vent for the goods they deal in, by reason that the markets fail" ... [A 
nation] "never thrives better, than when riches are tost from hand to hand." (Sir 
Dudley North : " Discourses upon Trade," Lond. 1691, pp. 11-15, passim.) Herren- 
schwand s fanciful notions amount merely to this, that the antagonism, which has 
its origin in the nature of commodities, and is reproduced in their circulation, can be 
removed by increasing the circulating medium. But if, on the one hand, it is a popu 
lar delusion to ascribe stagnation in production and circulation to insufficiency of 
the circulating medium, it by no means follows, on the other hand, that an actual 
paucity of the medium in consequence, e.g., of bungling legislative interference with 
the regulation of currency, may not give rise to such stagnation. 

98 Capitalist Production. 

to the increase in their prices, or provided the velocity of 
currency increase at the same rate as prices rise, the number of 
commodities in circulation remaining constant. The quantity 
of the circulating medium may decrease, owing to the number 
of commodities decreasing more rapidly ; or to the velocity of 
currency increasing more rapidly, than prices rise. 

With a general fall in the prices of commodities, the quantity 
oi the circulating medium will remain constant, provided the 
number of commodities increase proportionally to their fall in 
price, or provided the velocity of currency decrease in the same 
proportion. The quantity of the circulating medium will 
increase, provided the number of commodities increase quicker, 
or the rapidity of circulation decrease quicker, than the prices 

The variations of the different factors may mutually compen 
sate each other, so that notwithstanding their continued 
instability, the sum of the prices to be realised and the quantity 
of money in circulation remains constant ; consequently, we 
find, especially if we take long periods into consideration, that 
the deviations from the average level, of the quantity of money 
current in any country, are much smaller than we should at 
first sight expect, apart of course from excessive perturbations 
periodically arising from industrial and commercial crises, or, 
less frequently, from fluctuations in the value of money. 

The law, that the quantity of the circulating medium is 
determined by the sum of the prices of the commodities 
circulating, and the average velocity of currency 1 may also be 

1 "There is a certain measure and proportion of money requisite to drive the 
trade of a nation, more or less than which would prejudice the same. Just as there 
is a certain proportion of farthings necessary in a small retail trade, to change silver 
money, and to even such reckonings as cannot be adjusted with the smallest silver 
pieces. . . . Now, as the proportion of the number of farthings requisite in com 
merce is to be taken from the number of people, the frequency of their exchanges : 
as also, and principally, from the value of the smallest silver pieces of money ; so in 
like manner, the proportion of money [gold and silver specie] requisite in our trade, 
is to be likewise taken from the frequency of commutations, and from the bigness of 
the payments." (William Petty. " A Treatise on Taxes and Contributions." Lond. 
1662, p. 17.) The Theory of Hume was defended against the attacks of J. Steuart and 
others, by A. Young, in his "Political Arithmetic," Lond. 1774, in which work there 
is a special chapter entitled "Prices depend on quantity of money," at p. 112, sqq. 
1 have stated in "Zur Kritik, &c.," p. 149: "He (Adam Smith) passes over 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 99 

stated as follows : given the sum of the values of commodities, 
and the average rapidity of their metamorphoses, the quantity 
of precious metal current as money depends on the value of 
that precious metal. The erroneous opinion that it is, on the 
contrary, prices that are determined by the quantity of the 
circulating medium, and that the latter depends on the 
quantity of the precious metals in a country ; 1 this opinion was 
based by those who first held it, on the absurd hypothesis that 
commodities are without a price, and money without a value, 
when they first enter into circulation, and that, once in the 
circulation, an aliquot part of the medley of commodities is 
exchanged for an aliquot part of the heap of precious metals. * 

without remark the question as to the quantity of coin in circulation, and treats 
money quite wrongly as a mere commodity." This statement applies only in so far 
ns Adam Smith, ex officio, treats of money. Now and then, however, as in his 
criticism of the earlier systems of political economy, he takes the right view. "The 
quantity of coin in every country is regulated by the value of the commodities which 
are to be circulated by it. ... The value of the goods annually bought and sold 
in any country requires a certain quantity of money to circulate and distribute them 
to their proper consumers, and can give employment to no more. The channel of 
circulation necessarily draws to itself a sum sufficient to fill it, and never admits any 
more." (" Wealth of Nations." Bk. IV., ch. I.) In like manner, ex officio, he opens 
his work with an apotheosis on the division of labour. Afterwards, in the last book 
which treats of the sources of public revenue, he occasionally repeats the denunciations 
of the division of labour made by his teacher, A. Ferguson. 

1 " The prices of things will certainly rise in every nation, as the gold and silver 
increase amongst the people ; and consequently, where the gold and silver decrease 
iu any nation, the prices of all things must fall proportionably to such decrease of 
money." (Jacob Vanderlint : " Money answers all Things." Lond. 1734, p. 5.) A 
careful comparison of this book with Hume s "Essays," proves to my mind without 
doubt that Hume was acquainted with and made use of Vanderlint s work, which is 
certainly an important one. The opinion that prices are determined by the quantity 
of the circulating medium, was also held by Barbon and other much earlier writers. 
" No inconvenience," says Vanderlint, " can arise by an unrestrained trade, but very 
great advantage ; since, if the cash of the nation be decreased by it, which 
prohibitions are designed to prevent, those nations that get the cash will certainly 
find everything advance in price, as the cash increases amongst them. And . . . 
our manufactures, and everything else, will soon become so moderate as to turn the 
balance of trade in our favour, and thereby fetch the money back again." (1. c., 
pp. 43, 44.) 

2 That the price of each single kind of commodity forms a part of the sum of the 
prices of all the commodities in circulation, is a self-evident proposition. But how 
use-values, which are incommensurable with regard to each other, are to be ex 
changed, en masse, for the total sum of gold and silver in a country, is quite incom 
prehensible. If we start from the notion that all commodities together form one 
single commodity, of which each is but an aliquot part, we get the following beautiful 
result : The total commodity = x cwt. of gold ; commodity A = an aliquot part of th 

ioo Capitalist Production. 

c. Coin and symbols of value. 

That money takes the shape of coin, springs from its function 
as the circulating medium. The weight of gold represented in 
imagination by the prices or money-names of commodities, 
must confront those commodities, within the circulation, in the 
shape of coins or pieces of gold of a given denomination. 
Coining, like the establishment of a standard of prices, is the 
business of the State. The different national uniforms worn 
at home by gold and silver as coins, and doffed again in the 
market of the world, indicate the separation between the 
internal or national spheres of the circulation of commodities, 
and their universal sphere. 

The only difference, therefore, between coin and bullion, is 
one of shape, and gold can at any time pass from one form ta 
the other. 1 But no sooner does coin leave the mint, than it 

total commodity s the same aliquot part of x cwt. of gold. This is stated in all 
seriousness by Montesquieu : "Si 1 on compare la masse de 1 or et de 1 argent qui esfc 
dans le monde avec la somme des marchandises qui y sont, il est certain que chaque- 
denree ou marchandise, en particulier, pourra etre comparee a une certaine portion 
de le masse entiere. Supposons qu il n y ait qu une seule denree ou marchandise dans le 
monde, ou qu il n y ait qu une seule qui s achete, et qu elle se divise comme 1 argent : 
Cette partie de cette marchandise repondra a une partie de la masse de 1 argent ; la 
moitie du total de 1 une a la moitie du total de 1 autre, &c. . . . 1 etablissement 
du prix des choses depend toujours fondamentalement de la raison du total des choses 
au total des signes." (Montesquieu 1. c. t III., pp. 12, 13.) As to the further devel 
opment of this theory by Bicardo and his disciples, James Mill, Lord Overstone, and 
others, see "Zur Kritik," &c., pp. 140-146, and p. 150, sqq. John Stuart Mill, with 
his usual eclectic logic, understands how to hold at the same time the view of his 
father, James Mill, and the opposite view. On a comparison of the text of his 
compendium, "Principles of Pol. Econ. ," with his preface to the first edition, in 
which preface he announces himself as the Adam Smith of his day we do not know 
whether to admire more the simplicity of the man, or that of the public, who took 
him, in good faith, for the Adam Smith he announced himself to be, although he bears 
about as much resemblance to Adam Smith as say General Williams, of Ears, to the 
Duke of Wellington. The original researches of Mr. J. S. Mill, which are neither 
extensive nor profound, in the domain of political economy, will be found mustered 
in rank and file in his little work, " Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy," 
which appeared in 1844. Locke asserts point blank the connexion between the- 
absence of value in gold and silver, and the determination of their values by quantity 
alone, "Mankind having consented to put an imaginary value upon gold and silver 
. . . the intrinsick value, regarded in these metals, is nothing but the quantity." 
("Some considerations," &c., 1691, Works Ed. 1777, vol. II. , p. 15.) 

1 It lies, of course, entirely beyond my purpose to take into consideration such 
details as the seigniorage on minting. I will, however, cite for the benefit of the 
romantic sycophant, Adam Miiller, who admires the "generous liberality" with 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 101 

immediately finds itself on tlie high-road to the melting put. 
During their currency, coins wear away, some more, others 
less. Name and substance, nominal weight and real weight, 
begin their process of separation. Coins of the same derom- 
ination become different in value, because they are different in 
weight. The weight of gold fixed upon as the standard of 
I trices, deviates from the weight that serves as the circulating 
medium, and the latter thereby ceases any longer to be a real 
equivalent of the commodities whose prices it realises. The 
history of coinage during the middle ages and down into the 
18th century, records the ever renewed confusion arising from 
this cause. The natural tendency of circulation to convert 
coins into a mere semblance of what they profess to be, into a 
symbol of the weight of metal they are officially supposed to 
contain, is recognised by modern legislation, which fixes the 
loss of weight sufficient to demonetise a gold coin, or to make 
it no longer legal tender. 

The fact that the currency of coins itself effects a separation 
between their nominal and their real weight, creating a dis 
tinction between them as mere pieces of metal on the one hand, 
and as coins with a definite function on the other this fact 
implies the latent possibility of replacing metallic coins by 
tokens of some other material, by symbols serving the same 
purposes as coins. The practical difficulties in the way of 
coining extremely minute quantities of gold or silver, and the 
circumstance that at first the less precious metal is used as a 
measure of value instead of the more precious, copper instead 
of silver, silver instead of gold, and that the less precious 
circulates as money until dethroned by the more precious all 
these facts explain the parts historically played by silver and 

which the English Government coins gratuitously, the following opinion of Sir 
Dudley North: "Silver and gold, like other commodities, have their ebbings and 
flowings. Upon the arrival of quantities from Spain . . . it is carried into the 
Tower, and coined. Not long after there will come a demand for bullion to be 
exported again. If there is none, but all happens to be in coin, what then ? Melt it 
down again ; there s no loss in it, for the coining costs the owner nothing. Thui the 
nation has been abused, and made to pay for the twisting of straw for asses to eat. 
If the merchant were made to pay the price of the coinage, he would not have sent his 
silver to the Tower without consideration ; and coined money would always keep a value 
above uncoined silver." (North, 1. c., p. 16.) North was himself one of the foremost 
merchants in the reign of Charles II. 

IO2 Capitalist Production. 

copper tokens as substitutes for gold coins. Silver and copper 
tokens take the place of gold in those regions of the circulation 
where coins pass from hand to hand most rapidly, and are 
subject to the maximum amount of wear and tear. This occurs 
where aales and purchases on a very small scale are continually 
happening. In order to prevent these satellites from establish 
ing themselves permanently in the place of gold, positive 
enactments determine the extent to which they must be com- 
pulsorily received as payment instead of gold. The particular 
tracks pursued by the different species of coin in currency, run 
naturally into each other. The tokens keep company with 
gold, to pay fractional parts of the smallest gold coin ; gold is^ 
on the one hand, constantly pouring into retail circulation, and 
on the other hand is as constantly being thrown out again by 
being changed into tokens. 1 

The weight of metal in the silver and copper tokens is- 
arbitrarily fixed by law. When in currency, they wear away 
even more rapidly than gold coins. Hence their functions are 
totally independent of their weight, and consequently of all 
value. The function of gold as coin becomes completely inde 
pendent of the metallic value of that gold. Therefore things 
that are relatively without value, such as paper notes, can 
serve as coins in its place. This purely symbolic character is 
to a certain extent masked in metal tokens. In paper money 
it stands out plainly. In fact, ce n est que le premier pas qur 

We allude here only to inconvertible paper money issued by 
the State and having compulsory circulation. It has its 
immediate origin in the metallic currency. Money based upon 
credit implies on the other hand conditions, which, from our 

1 " If silver never exceed what is wanted for the smaller payments, it cannot be 
collected in sufficient quantities for the larger payments . . . the use of gold in 
the main payments necessarily implies also its use in the retail trade : those wlia 
have gold coin offering them for small purchases, and receiving with the commodity 
purchased a balance of silver in return ; by which means the surplus of silver that 
would otherwise encumber the retail dealer, is drawn off and dispersed into general 
circulation. But if there is as much silver as will transact the small payments in 
dependent of gold, the retail trader must then receive silver for small purchases j 
and it must of necessity accumulate in his hands." (David Buchanan. " Inquiry into 
the Taxation and Commercial Policy of Great Britain." Edinburgh, 1844, pp. 248, 249. 1 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 103 

standpoint of the simple circulation of commodities, are as yet 
totally unknown to us. But we may affirm this much, that 
just as true paper money takes its rise in the function of money 
as the circulating medium, so money based upon credit takes 
root spontaneously in the function of money as the means of 
payment. 1 

The State puts in circulation bits of paper on which their 
various denominations, say 1, 5, &c., are printed. In so far 
as they actually take the place of gold to the same amount, 
their movement is subject to the laws that regulate the currency 
of money itself. A law peculiar to the circulation of paper 
money can spring up only from the proportion in which that 
paper money represents gold. Such a law exists ; stated 
simply, it is as follows : the issue of paper money must not 
exceed in amount the gold (or silver as the case may be) which 
would actually circulate if not replaced by symbols. Now the 
quantity of gold which the circulation can absorb, constantly 
fluctuates about a given level. Still, the mass of the circulating 
medium in a given country never sinks below a certain 
minimum easily ascertained by actual experience. The fact 
that this minimum mass continually undergoes changes in its 
constituent parts, or that the pieces of gold of which it consists 
are being constantly replaced by fresh ones, causes of course no 
change either in its amount or in the continuity of its circula 
tion. It can therefore be replaced by paper symbols. If, on 
the other hand, all the conduits of circulation were to-day filled 
with paper money to the full extent of their capacity for 

1 The mandarin Wan-mao-in, the Chinese Chancellor of the Exchequer, took it into 
his head one day to lay before the Son of Heaven a proposal that secretly aimed at 
converting the assignats of the empire into convertible bank notes. The assignats 
Committee, in its report of April, 1854, gives him a severe snubbing. Whether he 
also received the traditional drubbing with bamboos is not stated. The concluding 
part of the report is as follows : The Committee has carefully examined his pro 
posal and finds that it is entirely in favour of the merchants, and that no advantage 
will result to the crown." (Arbeiten der Kaiserlich Kussischen Gesandtschaft zu 
Peking uber China. Aus dem Russischen von Dr. K. Abel und F. A. Mecklenburg. 
Erster Band. Berlin, 1858, pp. 47, 59. ) In his evidence before the Committee of the 
House of Lords on the Bank Acts, a governor of the Bank of England says, with 
regard to the abrasion of gold coins during currency : " Every year a fresh class of 
sovereigns becomes too light. The class which one year passes with full weight, 
loses enough by wear and tear to draw the scales next year against it." (House of 
Lords Committee, lF4 -\ n 4<>q ) 

IO4 Capitalist Production. 

absorbing money, they might to-morrow be overflowing in 
consequence of a fluctuation in the circulation of commodities. 
There would no longer be any standard. If the paper money 
exceed its proper limit, which is the amount in gold coins of 
the like denomination that can actually be current, it would, 
apart from the danger of falling into general disrepute, re 
present only that quantity of gold, which, in accordance with 
the laws of the circulation of commodities, is required, and is 
alone capable of being represented by paper. If the quantity 
of paper money issued be double what it ought to be, then, as 
a mattei of fact, 1 would be the money -name not of J of an 
ounce, but of \ of an ounce of gold. The effect would be the 
same as if an alteration had taken place in the function of gold 
as a standard of prices. Those values that were previously 
expressed by the price of 1 would now be expressed by the 
price of 2. 

Paper-money is a token representing gold or money. The 
relation between it and the values of commodities is this, that 
the latter are ideally expressed in the same quantities of gold 
that are symbolically represented by the paper. Only in so 
far as paper-money represents gold, which like all other com 
modities has value, is it a symbol of value. x 

Finally, some one may ask why gold is capable of being 
replaced by tokens that have no value ? But, as we have 
already seen, it is capable of being so replaced only in so far 
as it functions exclusively as coin, or as the circulating 
medium, and as nothing else. Now, money has other functions 
besides this one, and the isolated function of serving as the 
mere circulating medium is not necessarily the only one 

1 The following passage from Fullarton shows the want of clearness on the part of 
even the best writers on money, in their comprehension of its various functions : 
That, as far as concerns our domestic exchanges, all the monetary functions which 
are usually performed by gold and silver coins, may be performed as effectually by a 
circulation of inconvertible notes, having no value but that factitious and conven 
tional value they derive from the law, is a fact which admits, I conceive, of no 
denial. Value of this description may be made to answer all the purposes of intrinsic 
value, and supersede even the necessity for a standard, provided only the quantity 
of issues be kept under due limitation." (Fullarton : " Kegulation of Currencies," 
London, 1844, p. 21.) Because the commodity that serves as money is capable 
of being replaced in circulation by mere symbols of value, therefore its functions as 
a measure of value and a standard of prices are declared to be superfluous 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 105 

attached to gold coin, although this is the case with those 
-abraded coins that continue to circulate. Each piece of money 
is a mere coin, or means of circulation, only so long as it actually 
circulates. But this is just the case with that minimum mass 
of gold, which is capable of being replaced by paper-money. 
That mass remains constantly within the sphere of circulation, 
continually functions as a circulating medium, and exists ex 
clusively for that purpose. Its movement therefore represents 
nothing but the continued alternation of the inverse phases of 
the metamorphosis C M C, phases in which commodities con 
front their value-forms, only to disappear again immediately. 
The independent existence of the exchange value of a com 
modity is here a transient apparition, by means of which the 
commodity is immediately replaced by another commodity. 
Hence, in this process which continually makes money pass 
from hand to hand, the mere symbolical existence of money 
suffices. Its functional existence absorbs, so to say, its 
material existence. Being a transient and objective reflex of 
the prices of commodities, it serves only as a symbol of itself, 
and is therefore capable of being replaced by a token. * One 
thing is, however, requisite ; this token must have an objective 
social validity of its own, and this the paper symbol acquires 
by its forced currency. This compulsory action of the 
State can take effect only within that inner sphere of circula 
tion which is co-terminous with the territories of the com 
munity, but it is also only within that sphere that money 
completely responds to its function of being the circulating 
medium, or becomes coin. 


The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, 

1 From the fact that gold and silver, so far as they are coins, or exclusively serve 
as the medium of circulation, become mere tokens of themselves, Nicholas Barbon. 
deduces the right of Governments " to raise money," that is, to give to the weight of 
silver that is called a shilling the name of a greater weight, such as a crown*; and so 
to pay creditors shillings, instead of crowns. "Money does wear and grow lighter 
by often telling over ... It is the denomination and currency of the money 
that men regard in bargaining, and not the quantity of silver . . . Tis the 
public authority upon the metal that makes it money." (N. Barbon, 1. c., pp. 29, 30, 

io6 Capitalist Production. 

either in its &wn person or by a representative, as the medium 
of circulation, is money. Gold (or silver) is therefore money. 
It functions as money, on the one hand, when it has to btf 
present in its own golden person. It is then the money -com 
modity, neither merely ideal, as in its function of a measure 
of value, nor capable of being represented, as in its function of 
circulating medium. On the other hand, it also functions as 
money, when by virtue of its function, whether that function 
be performed in person or by representative, it congeals into the 
sole form of value, the only adequate form of existence of 
exchange-value, in opposition to use-value, represented by all 
other commodities. 

a. Hoarding. 

The continual movement in circuits of the two antithetical 
metamorphoses of commodities, or the never ceasing alternation 
of sale and purchase, is reflected in the restless currency of 
money, or in the function that money performs of a perpetuum 
mobile of circulation. But so soon as the series of metamor 
phoses is interrupted, so soon as sales are not supplemented by 
subsequent purchases, money ceases to be mobilised ; it is trans 
formed, as Boisguillebert says, from "meuble" into "im- 
meuble," from movable into immovable, from coin into 

With the very earliest development of the circulation of 
commodities, there is also developed the necessity, and the 
passionate desire, to hold fast the product of the first metamor 
phosis. This product is the transformed shape of the com 
modity, or its gold-chrysalis. * Commodities are thus sold not 
for the purpose of buying others, but in order to replace their 
commodity-form by their money-form. From being the mere 
means of effecting the circulation of commodities, this change 
of form becomes the end and aim. The changed form of the 
commodity is thus prevented from functioning as its uncondi 
tionally alienable form, or as its merely transient money-form. 

1 "Une richesse en argent n est que . . . richesse en productions, converties 
en argent." (Mercier de la Riviere, 1. c.) "Une valeur en productions n a fait que 
changer de forme." (Id., p, 486.) 

Money -, or the Circulation of Commodities. 107 

The money becomes petrified into a hoard, and the seller 
becomes a hoarder of money. 

In the early stages of the circulation of commodities, it is 
the surplus use-values alone that are converted into money. 
Gold and silver thus become of themselves social expressions 
for superfluity or wealth. This na ive form of hoarding be 
comes perpetuated in those communities in which the tra 
ditional mode of production is carried on for the supply of a 
fixed and limited circle of home wants. It is thus with the 
people of Asia, and particularly of the East Indies. Vanderlint, 
who fancies that the prices of commodities in a country are 
determined by the quantity of gold and silver to be found in 
it, asks himself why Indian commodities are so cheap. An 
swer : Because the Hindoos bury their money. From 1602 to 
1734, he remarks, they buried 150 millions of pounds sterling 
of silver, which originally came from America to Europe. 1 In 
the 10 years from 1856 to 1866, England exported to India 
and China 120,000,000 in silver, which had been received in 
exchange for Australian gold. Most of the silver exported to 
China makes its way to India. 

As the production of commodities further developes, every 
producer of commodities is compelled to make sure of the 
nexus rerum or the social pledge. 3 His wants are constantly 
making themselves felt, and necessitate the continual purchase 
of other people s commodities, while the production and sale of 
his own goods require time, and depend upon circumstances. 
In order then to be able to buy without selling, he must have 
sold previously without buying. This operation, conducted 
on a general scale, appears to imply a contradiction. But the 
precious metals at the sources of their production are directly 
exchanged for other commodities. And here we have sales 
(by the owners of commodities) without purchases (by the 
owners of gold or silver). 3 And subsequent sales, by other 

1 Tis by this practice they keep all their goo ds and manufactures at such low 
rates." (Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 96.) 

- Money. . . is a pledge." (John Sellers : " Essays about the Poor, Manufacturers, 
Trade, Plantations, and Immorality," Lond., 1699, p. 13.) 

3 A purchase, in a " categorical " sense, implies that gold and silver are already the 
converted form of commodities, or the product of a sale. 

io8 Capitalist Production. 

producers, unfollowed by purchases, merely bring about the 
distribution of the newly produced precious metals among all 
the owners of commodities. In this way, all along the line of 
exchange, hoards of gold and silver of varied extent are ac 
cumulated. With the possibility of holding and storing up 
exchange value in the shape of a particular commodity, arises 
also the greed for gold. Along with the extension of circula 
tion, increases the power of money, that absolutely social form 
of wealth ever ready for use. " Gold is a wonderful thing ! 
Whoever possesses it is lord of all he wants. By means of 
gold one can even get souls into Paradise." (Columbus in his 
letter from Jamaica, 1503.) Since gold does not disclose what 
has been transformed into it, everything, commodity or not, 
us convertible into gold. Everything becomes saleable and 
buyable. The circulation becomes the great social retort into 
which everything is thrown, to come out again as a gold- 
crystal. Not even are the bones of saints, and still less are 
more delicate res sacrosanctse extra commercium hominum 
able to withstand this alchemy. 1 Just as every qualitative 
difference between commodities is extinguished in money, so 
money, on its side, like the radical leveller that it is, does 
away with all distinctions. 2 But money itself is a commodity, 

1 Henry III., most Christian king of France, robbed cloisters of their relics, and 
turned them into money. It is well known what part the despoiling of the Delphic 
Temple, by the Phocians, played in the history of Greece. Temples with the ancients 
served as the dwellings of the gods of commodities., They were "sacred banks." With 
the Phoenicians, a trading people par excellence, money was the transmuted shape of 
everything. It was, therefore, quite in order that the virgins, who, at the feast of 
the Goddess of Love, gave themselves up to strangers, should offer to the goddess the 
piece of money they received. 

* "Gold, yellow, glittering, precious gold ! 

Thus much of this, will make black white ; foul, fair ; 

Wrong right ; base, noble ; old, young ; coward, valiant. 

. . . What this, you gods ? Why, this 

Will lug your priests and servants from your sides ; 

Pluck stout men .; pillows from below their heads ; 

This yellow slave 

Will knit and break religions ; bless the accurs d ; 

Make the hoar leprosy ador d ; place thieves, 

And give them title, knee and approbation, 

With senators on the bench ; this is it, 

That makes the wappen d widow wed again : 

Come damned earth, 

Thou common whore of mankind." 

(Shakespeare : Timon of A thews. ) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 109 

an external object, capable of becoming the private property 
of any individual. Thus social power becomes the private 
power of private persons. The ancients therefore denounced 
money as subversive of the economical and moral order of 
things. 1 Modern society, which, soon after its birth, pulled 
Plutus by the hair of his head from the bowels of the earth, 8 
greets gold as its Holy Grail, as the glittering incarnation of 
the very principle of its own life. 

A commodity, in its capacity of a use-value, satisfies a 
particular want, and is a particular element of material wealth. 
But the value of a commodity measures the degree of its 
attraction for all other elements of material wealth, and there 
fore measures the social wealth of its owner. To a barbarian 
owner of commodities, and even to a West-European peasant, 
value is the same as value-form, and therefore, to him the 
increase in his hoard of gold and silver is an increase in value. 
It is true that the value of money varies, at one time in con 
sequence of a variation in its own value, at another, in 
consequence of a change in the values of commodities. But 
this, on the one hand, does not prevent 200 ounces of gold from 
still containing more value than 100 ounces, nor, on the other 
hand, does it hinder the actual metallic form of this article 
from continuing to be the universal equivalent form of all other 
commodities, and the immediate social incarnation of all 
human labour. The desire after hoarding is in its very nature 
unsatiable. In its qualitative aspect, or formally considered, 
money has no bounds to its efficacy, i.e., it is the universal re 
presentative of material wealth, because it is direct]y convertible 
into any other commodity. But, at the same time, every actual 
sum of money is limited in amount, and, therefore, as a means 

M Oi}J$ yap a.vtip& rotffiv etov 
K.KX09 vofAiaptt ifi&uffrt rovvo xal 

aS ix,oilia, xa.1 IT at. p <r 1 1 typiv 
%p$t dv^pM-rat; i%m 
3vff<r i(iiiu.v ifiivai. 7 
(Sophocles, Antigone). 


(Athen. Deipnos.) 

no Capitalist Production. 

of purchasing, has only a limited efficacy. This antagonism 
between the quantitative limits of money and its qualitative 
boundlessness, continually acts as a spur to the hoarder in his 
Sisyphus-like labour of accumulating. It is with him as it is 
with a conqueror who sees in every new country annexed, only 
a new boundary. 

In order that gold may be held as money, and made to form 
a hoard, it must be prevented from circulating, or from trans 
forming itself into a means of enjoyment. The hoarder, 
therefore, makes a sacrifice of the lusts of the flesh to his gold 
fetish. He acts in earnest up to the Gospel of abstention. On 
the other hand, he can withdraw from circulation no more than 
what he has thrown into it in the shape of commodities. The 
more he produces, the more he is able to sell. Hard work, 
saving, and avarice, are, therefore, his three cardinal virtues, 
and to sell much and buy little the sum of his political 
economy. 1 

By the side of the gross form of a hoard, we find also its 
aesthetic form in the possession of gold and silver articles. This 
grows with the wealth of civil society. " Soyons riches ou 
paraissons riches " (Diderot). In this way there is created, on the 
one hand, a constantly extending market for gold and silver, 
unconnected with their functions as money, and, on the other 
hand, a latent source of supply, to which recourse is had 
principally in times of crisis and social disturbance. 

Hoarding serves various purposes in the economy of the 
metallic circulation. Its first function arises out of the conditions 
to which the currency of gold and silver coins is subject. We 
have seen how, along with the continual fluctuations in the 
extent and rapidity of the circulation of commodities and in 
wheir prices, the quantity of money current unceasingly ebbs 
and flows. This mass must, therefore, be capable of expansion 
and contraction. At one time money must be attracted in 
order to act as circulating coin, at another, circulating coin must 
be repelled in order to act again as more or less stagnant money. 

1 " Accrescere quanto pitl si pu6 il numero de venditori d ogni inerce, diminuere 
quanto piii si pu6 il numero dei compratori, questi sono i cardirii sui quali si raggirauo 
tutte le operazioni di econoinia politica." (Yerri, I.e. p.52.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 1 1 1 

In order that the mass of money, actually current, may con 
stantly saturate the absorbing power of the circulation, it is 
necessary that the quantity of gold and silver in a country be 
greater than the quantity required to function as coin. This 
condition is fulfilled by money taking the form of hoards. 
These reserves serve as conduits for the supply or withdrawal 
of money to or from the circulation, which in this way never 
overflows its banks, * 

b. Means of Payment. 

In the simple form of the circulation of commodities hitherto 
considered, we found a given value always presented to us in 
a double shape, as a commodity at one pole, as money at the 
opposite pole. The owners of commodities came therefore into 
contact as the respective representatives of what were already 
equivalents. But with the development of circulation, condi 
tions arise under which the alienation of commodities becomes 
separated, by an interval of time, from the realisation of their 
prices. It will be sufficient to indicate the most simple of 
these conditions. One sort of article requires a longer, another 
a shorter time for its production. Again, the production of 
different commodities depends on different seasons of the year. 
One sort of commodity may be born on its own market place, 
another has to make a long journey to market. Commodity- 
owner No. 1, may therefore be ready to sell, before No. 2 is 
ready to buy. When the same transactions are continually 

1 "There is required for carrying on the trade of the nation a determinate sum of 
specifick money, which varies, and is sometimes more, sometimes less, as the circum 
stances we are in require. . . . This ebbing and flowing of money supplies and 
accommodates itself, without any aid of Politicians. . . . The buckets work 
alternately ; when money is scarce, bullion is coined ; when bullion is scarce, money 
is melted." (Sir D. North, 1. c., Postscript, p. 3.) John Stuart Mill, who for a long time 
was an official of the East India Company, confirms the fact that in India silver orna 
ments still continue to perform directly the functions of a hoard. The silver 
ornaments are brought out and coined when there is a high rate of interest, and go 
back again when the rate of interest falls. (J. S. Mill s Evidence. " .Reports on 
Bank Acts," 1857, 2084.) According to a Parliamentary document of 1864, on the gold 
and silver import and export of India, the import of gold and silver in 1863 exceeded 
the export by 19,367,764. During the 8 years immediately preceding 1864, the 
excess of imports over exports of the precious metals amounted to 109,652,917. 
During this century far more than 200,000,000 has been coined in India. 

T T 2 Capitalist Production. 

repeated between the same persons, the conditions of sale are- 
regulated in accordance with the conditions of production. On 
the other hand, the use of a given commodity, ot a house, for 
instance, is sold (in common parlance, let) for a definite period. 
Here, it is only at the end of the term that the buyer has 
actually received the use-value of the commodity. He there 
fore buys it before he pays for it. The vendor sells an exist 
ing commodity, the purchaser buys as the mere representative 
of money, or rather of future money. The vendor becomes a 
creditor, the purchaser becomes a debtor. Since the metamor 
phosis of commodities, or the development of their value-form, 
appears here under a new aspect, money also acquires a fresh 
function ; it becomes the means of payment. 

The character of creditor, or of debtor, results here from the 
simple circulation. The change in the form of that circulation 
stamps buyer and seller with this new die. At first, therefore, 
these new parts are just as transient and alternating as those of 
seller and buyer, and are in turns played by the same actors. 
But the opposition is not nearly so pleasant, and is far more 
capable of crystallization. 1 The same characters can, however, 
be assumed independently of the circulation of commodities. 
The class-struggles of the ancient world took the form chiefly 
of a contest between debtors and creditors, which in Rome 
ended in the ruin of the plebeian debtors. They were dis 
placed by slaves. In the middle-ages the contest ended with 
the ruin of the feudal debtors, who lost their political power 
together with the economical basis on which it was established. 
Nevertheless, the money relation of debtor and creditor that 
existed at these two periods reflected only the deeper-lying 
antagonism between the general economical conditions of 
existence of the classes in question. 

Let us return to the circulation of commodities. The 
appearance of the two equivalents, commodities and money, at 
the two poles of the process of sale, has ceased to be simulta- 

1 The following shows the debtor and creditor relations existing between English 
traders at the beginning of the 18th century. " Such a spirit of cruelty reigns here 
in England among the men of trade, that is not to be met with in any other society 
of men, nor in any other kingdom of the world." ("An Essay on Credit and the 
Bankrupt Act," Lond., 1707, p. 2.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 113 

neous. The money functions now, first as a measure of value 
in the determination of the price of the commodity sold ; the 
price fixed by the contract measures the obligation of the 
debtor, or the sum of money that he has to pay at a fixed 
date. Secondly, it serves as an ideal means of purchase. 
Although existing only in the promise of the buyer to pay, it 
causes the commodity to change hands. It is not before the 
day fixed for payment that the means of payment actually 
steps into circulation, leaves the hand of the buyer for that of 
the seller. The circulating medium was transformed into a 
hoard, because the process stopped short after the first phase, 
because the converted shape of the commodity, viz., the money, 
was withdrawn from circulation. The means of payment 
enters the circulation, but only after the commodity has left 
it. The money is no longer the means that brings about the 
process. It only brings it to a close, by stepping in as the 
absolute form of existence of exchange value, or as the 
universal commodity. The seller turned his commodity into 
money, in order thereby to satisfy some want ; the hoarder did 
the same in order to keep his commodity in its money-shape, 
and the debtor in order to be able to pay ; if he do not pay, 
his goods will be sold by the sheriff. The value-form of com 
modities, money, is therefore now the end and aim of a sale, 
and that owing to a social necessity springing out of the 
process of circulation itself. 

The buyer converts money back into commodities before he 
has turned commodities into money : in other words, he achieves 
the second metamorphosis of commodities before the first. The 
seller s commodity circulates, and realises its price, but only in 
the shape of a legal claim upon money. It is converted into a 
use- value before it has been converted into money. The 
completion of its first metamorphosis follows only at a later 
period. 1 

1 It will be seen from the following quotation from my book which appeared in 
1859, why I take no notice in the text of an opposite form : "Contrariwise, in the pro 
cess M C, the money can be alienated as a real means of purchase, and in that way, 
the price of the commodity can be realised before the use-value of the money is 
realised and the commodity actually delivered. This occurs constantly under the 
every-day form of pre-payments. And it is under this form, that the English 


H4 Capitalist Production. 

The obligations falling due within a given period, represent 
the sum of the prices of the commodities, the sale of which 
gave rise to those obligations. The quantity of gold necessary 
to realise this sum, depends, in the first instance, on the 
rapidity of currency of the means of payment. That quantity 
is conditioned by two circumstances : first the relations be 
tween debtors and creditors form a sort of chain, in such a way 
that A, when he receives money from his debtor B, straight 
way hands it over to C his creditor, and so on ; the second 
circumstance is the length of the intervals between the 
different due- days of the obligations. The continuous chain 
of payments, or retarded first metamorphoses, is essentially 
different from that interlacing of the series of metamorphoses 
which we considered on a former page. By the currency of 
the circulating medium, the connexion between buyers and 
sellers, is not merely expressed. This connexion is originated 
by, and exists in, the circulation alone. Contrariwise, the 
movement of the means of payment expresses a social relation 
that was in existence long before. 

The fact that a number of sales take place simultaneously, 
and side by side, limits the extent to which coin can be re 
placed by the rapidity of currency. On the other hand, this 
fact is a new lever in economising the means of payment. In 
proportion as payments are concentrated at one spot, special 
institutions and methods are developed for their liquidation. 
Such in the middle ages were the virements at Lyons. The 
debts due to A from B, to B from C, to C from A, and so on, 
have only to be confronted with each other, in order to annul 
each other to a certain extent like positive and negative 
quantities. There thus remains only a single balance 
to pay. The greater the amount of the payments concen 
trated, the less is this balance relatively to that amount, 
and the less is the mass of the means of payment in 

The function of money as the means of payment implies a 

government purchases opium from the ryots of India. ... In these cases, however, the 
money always acts as a means of purchase. ... Of course capital also is ad 
vanced in the shape of money. . . . This point of view, however, does not fall 
within the horizon of simple circulation." (" Zur Kritik." &c., pp. 119, 120.) 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 115 

contradiction without a terminus medius. In so far as the 
payments balance one another, money functions only ideally 
as money of account, as a measure of value. In so far as actual 
payments have to be made, money does not serve as a circu 
lating medium, as a mere transient agent in the interchange 
of products, but as the individual incarnation of social labour, 
as the independent form of existence of exchange value, as the 
universal commodity. This contradiction comes to a head in 
those phases of industrial and commercial crises which are 
known as monetary crises. 1 Such a crisis occurs only where 
the ever-lengthening chain of payments, and an artificial system 
of settling them, has been fully developed. Whenever there 
is a general and extensive disturbance of this mechanism, no 
matter what its cause, money becomes suddenly and immedi 
ately transformed, from its merely ideal shape of money of 
account, into hard cash. Profane commodities can no longer 
replace it. The use-value of commodities becomes valueless, 
and their value vanishes in the presence of its own independent 
form. On the eve of the crisis, the bourgeois, with the self- 
sufficiency that springs from intoxicating prosperity, declares 
money to be a vain imagination. Commodities alone are 
money. But now the cry is everywhere : money alone is a 
commodity ! As the hart pants after fresh water, so pants his 
soul after money, the only wealth. 2 In a crisis, the antithesis 
between commodities and their value-form, money, becomes 
heightened into an absolute contradiction. Hence, in such 
events, the form under which money appears is of no import- 

1 The monetary crisis referred to in the text, being a phase of every crisis, must be 
clearly distinguished from that particular form of crisis, which also is called a mone 
tary crisis, but which may be produced by itself as an independent phenomenon in 
such a way as to react only indirectly on industry and commerce. The pivot of these 
crises is to be found in moneyed capital, and th^ir sphere of direct action \& there 
fore the sphere of that capital, viz. , banking, the stock exchange, and finance. 

2 The sudden reversion from a system of credit to a system of hard cash heaps 
theoretical fright on top of the practical panic ; and the dealers by whose agency 
circulation is affected, shudder before the impenetrable mystery in which their own 
economical relations are involved " (Karl Marx, 1. c. p. 126). " The poor stand still, be 
cause the rich have no money to employ them, though they have the same land and 
hands to provide victuals and clothes, as ever they had ; . . . which is the true Riches 
of a Nation, and not the money." (John Bellers : " Proposals for raising a Colledge 
of Industry," Lond. 1G05. p. 3.) 

1 1 6 Capitalist Production. 

ance. The money famine continues, whether payments haver 
to be made in gold or in credit money such as bank-notes. 1 

If we now consider the sum total of the money current dur 
ing a given period, we shall find that, given the rapidity of 
currency of the circulating medium and of the means of pay 
ment, it is equal to the sum of the prices to be realised, plus 
the sum of the payments falling due, minus the payments that 
balance each other, minus finally the number of circuits in 
which the same piece of coin serves in turn as means of 
circulation and of payment. Hence, even when prices, rapidity 
of currency, and the extent of the economy in payments, are 
given, the quantity of money current and the mass of com 
modities circulating during a given period, such as a day, no 
longer correspond. Money that represents commodities long 
withdrawn from circulation, continues to be current. Com 
modities circulate, whose equivalent in money will not appear 
on the scene till some future day. Moreover, the debts con 
tracted each day, and the payments falling due on the same 
day, are quite incommensurable quantities. 

Credit-money springs directly out of the function of money 
as a means of payment. Certificates of the debts owing for the 

i The following shows how such times are exploited by the " amis du commerce." 
" On one occasion (1839) an old grasping banker (in the city) in his private room raised 
the lid of the desk he sat over, and displayed to a friend rolls of banknotes, saying 
with intense glee there were 600,000 of them, they were held to make money tight, 
and would all be let our after three o clock on the same day." (" The Theory of 
Exchanges. The Bank Charter Act of 1844." Lond. 1864. p. 81.) The Observer, a 
semi-official government organ, contained the following paragraph on 24th April, 1864 : 
Some very curious rumours are current of the means which have been resorted to 

in order to create a scarcity of Banknotes Questionable as it would seem, to 

suppose that any trick of the kind would be adopted, the report has been so universal 
that it really deserves mention." 

8 "The amount of purchases or contracts entered upon during the course of any given 
day, will not affect the quantity of money afloat on that particular day, but, in the 
vast majority of cases, will resolve themselves into multifarious drafts upon the 
quantity of money which may be afloat at subsequent dates more or less distant. 
. . . . The bills granted or credits opened, to-day, need have no resemblance 
whatever, either in quantity, amount, or duration, to those granted or entered upon 
to-morrow or next day ; nay, many of to-day s bills, and credits, when due, fall in 
with a mass of liabilities whose origins traverse a range of antecedent dates altogether 
indefinite, bills at 12, 6, 3 months or 1 often aggregating together to swell the common 
liabilities of one particular day. ..." (" The Currency Theory Reviewed ; a 
letter to the Scottish people." By a Banker in England. Edinburgh, 1845, pp. 29, 30 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 1 1 7 

purchased commodities circulate for the purpose of transferring 
those debts to others. On the other hand, to the same extent 
as the system of credit is extended, so is the function of money 
as a means of payment. In that character it takes various 
forms peculiar to itself under which it makes itself at home in 
the sphere of great commercial transactions. Gold and silver 
coin, on the other hand, are mostly relegated to the sphere of 
retail trade. 1 

When the production of commodities has sufficiently ex 
tended itself, money begins to serve as the means of payment 
beyond the sphere of the circulation of commodities. It 
becomes the commodity that is the universal subject-matter of 
all contracts.* Rents, taxes, and such like payments are 
transformed from payments in kind into money payments. To 
what extent this transformation depends upon the general 
conditions of production, is shown, to take one example, by the 
fact that the Roman Empire twice failed in its attempt to levy 
all contributions in money. The unspeakable misery of the 
French agricultural population under Louis XIV., a misery so 
eloquently denounced by Boisguillebert, Marshal, Vauban, and 
others, was due not only to the weight of the taxes, but also 

1 As an example of how little ready money is required in true commercial opera 
tions, I give below a statement by one of the largest London houses of its yearly 
receipts and payments. Its transactions during the year 1856, extending to many 
millions of pounds sterling, are here reduced to the scale oi one million. 

Bankers and Merchants Bills 

payable after date, - 533,596 
Cheques on Bankers, &c., 

payable on demand, - 357,715 

Country Notes, 9,627 

Bank of England Notes, 68,554 

Gold, - - - 28,089 

Silver and Copper, 1,486 

Post Office Orders, - - 933 




Bills payable after date, - 302,674 

Cheques on London Bankers,- 663,672 

Bank of England Notes, 22,743 

Gold, - - 9,427 

Silver and Copper, - - 1,484 



" Report from the Select Committee on the Bank Acts, July, 1858," p. Ixxi. 

5 The course of trade being thus turned, from exchanging of goods for goods, or 
delivering and taking, to selling and paying, all the bargains . . . are now stated 
upon the foot of a Price in money." ."An Essay upon Publik Credit." 3rd Ed. 
Xond., 1710, p. 8.) 

n8 Capitalist Production, 

to the conversion of taxes in kind into money taxes. 1 In Asia, 
on the other hand, the fact that state taxes are chiefly composed 
of rents payable in kind, depends on conditions of production 
that are reproduced with the regularity of natural phenomena. 
And this mode of payment tends in its turn to maintain the 
ancient form of production. It is one of the secrets of the con 
servation of the Ottoman Empire. If the foreign trade, forced 
upon Japan by Europeans, should lead to the substitution of 
money rents for rents in kind, it will be all up with the 
exemplary agriculture of that country. The narrow economical 
conditions under which that agriculture is carried on, will be 
swept away. 

In every country, certain days of the year become by habit 
recognised settling days for various large and recurrent pay 
ments. These dates depend, apart from other revolutions in the 
wheel of reproduction, on conditions closely connected with 
the seasons. They also regulate the dates for payments that 
have no direct connexion with the circulation of commodities 
such as taxes, rents, and so on. The quantity of money re 
quisite to make the payments, falling due on those dates all 
over the country, causes periodical, though merely superficial, 
perturbations in the economy of the medium of payment. 2 

From the law of the rapidity of currency of the means of 

i " L argent . . . est devenu le bourreau de toutes choses." Finance is the " alambic, 
qui a fait evaporer une quantite effroyable de biens et de denrees pour faire ce fatal 
precis." " L argent declare la guerre a tout le genre humain." (Boisguillebert : 
" Dissertation BUT la nature des richesses, de 1 argent et des tributs." Edit. Daire. 
Economistes financiers. Paris, 1843, t. i., pp. 413, 419, 417.) 

* " On Whitsuntide, 1824," says Mr Craig before the Commons Committee of 182G, 
" there was such an immense demand for notes upon the banks of Edinburgh, that 
by 11 o clock they had not a note left in their custody. They sent round to all the 
different banks to borrow, but could not get them, and many of the transactions 
were adjusted by slips of paper only ; yet by three o clock the whole of the notes 
were returned into the banks from which they had issued ! It was a mere transfer 
from hand to hand." Although the average effective circulation of bank-notes in 
Scotland is less than three millions sterling, yet on certain pay days in the year, 
every single note in the possession of the bankers, amounting in the whole to about 
7,000,000, is called into activity. On these occasions the notes have a single and 
specific function to perform, and so soon as they have performed it, they flow back 
into the various banks from which they issued. (See John Fullarton, " Regulation of 
Currencies." Lond : 1844, p. 85 note). In explanation it should be stated, 
that in Scotland, at the date of Fullarton s work, notes and not cheques were used ta 
withdraw deposits. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 119 

payment, it follows that the quantity of the means of pay 
ment required for all periodical payments, whatever their 
source, is in inverse proportion to the length of their periods. 
The development of money into a medium of payment 
makes it necessary to accumulate money against the dates 
fixed for the payment of the sums owing. While hoarding, as 
a distinct mode of acquiring riches, vanishes with the progress 
of civil society, the formation of reserves of the means of pay 
ment grows with that progress. 

c. Universal Money. 

When money leaves the home sphere of circulation, it 
strips off the local garbs which it there assumes, of a standard 
of prices, of coin, of tokens, and of a symbol of value, and re 
turns to its original form of bullion. In the trade between the 
markets of the world, the value of commodities is expressed so 
as to be universally recognised. Hence their independent 
I value-form also, in these cases, confronts them under the 
shape of universal money. It is only in the markets of the 
world that money acquires to the full extent the character of the 
commodity whose bodily form is also the immediate social in 
carnation of human labour in the abstract. Its real mode of 
existence in this sphere adequately corresponds to its ideal 

Within the sphere of home circulation, there can be but one 
commodity which, by serving as a measure of value, becomes 
money. In the markets of the world a double measure of 
value holds sway, gold and silver.* 

1 To the question, "If there were occasion to raise 40 millions p. a., whether the 
same 6 million* (gold) . . . would suffice for such revolutions and circulations thereof, 
as trade requires," Petty replies in his usual masterly manner, " I answer yes : for the 
expense being 40 millions, if the revolutions were in such short circles, viz., weekly, 
as happens among poor artizans and labourers, who receive and pay every Saturday, 
then U parts of 1 million of money would answer these ends ; but if the circles b 
quarterly, according to our custom of paying rent, and gathering taxes, then 10 
millions were requisite. Wherefore, supposing payments in general to be of a mixed 
circle between one week and 13, then add 10 millions to , the half of which will 
be 5, so as if we have 5^ millions we have enough." (William Petty : " Political 
Anatomy of Ireland." 1672. Edit. : Lond. 1691, pp. 13. 14.) 

8 Hence the absurdity of every law prescribing that the banks of a country shall 
form reserves of that precious metal alone which circulates at home. The " pleasant 

I2O Capitalist Production. 

Money of the world serves as the universal medium of 
payment, as the universal means of purchasing, and as the 
universally recognised embodiment of all wealth. Its function 
as a means of payment in the settling of international balances 
is its chief one. Hence the watchword of the mercantilists, 
balance of trade. 1 Gold and silver serve as international means 
of purchasing chiefly and necessarily in those periods when 
the customary equilibrium in the interchange of products 
between different nations is suddenly disturbed. And lastly, 
it serves as the universally recognised embodiment of social 
wealth, whenever the question is not of buying or paying, but 
of transferring wealth from one country to another, and when 
ever this transference in the form of commodities is rendered 
impossible, either by special conjunctures in the markets, or 
by the purpose itself that is intended. 3 

Just as every country needs a reserve of money for its home 
circulation, so, too, it requires one for external circulation in 

difficulties " thus self-created by the Bank of England, are well known. On the 
subj ect of the great epochs in the history of the changes in the relati ve value of gold and 
silver, see Karl Marx, 1. c. p. 136 sq. Sir Eobert Peel, by his Bank Act of 1844, sought 
to tide over the difficulty, by allowing the Bank o( England to issue notes against 
silver bullion, on condition that the reserve of silver should never exceed more than 
one-fourth of the reserve of gold. The value of silver being for that purpose estimated 
at its price in the London market. 

1 The opponents, themselves, of the mercantile system, a system which considered 
the settlement of surplus trade balances in gold and silver as the aim of international 
trade, entirely misconceived the functions of money of the world. I have shown by 
the example of Ricardo in what way their false conception of the laws that regulate 
the quantity of the circulating medium, is reflected in their equally false conception 
of the international movement of the precious metals (1. c. pp. 150 sq.) His 
erroneous dogma: "An unfavourable balance of trade never arises but from a re 
dundant currency. . . . The exportation of the coin is caused by its cheapness, and 
is not the effect, but the cause of an unfavourable balance," already occurs in Barbon : 
" The Balance of Trade, if there be one, is not the cause of sending away the money 
out of a nation ; but that proceeds from the difference of the value of bullion in 
every country." (N. Barbon ; 1. c. pp. 59, 60.) MacCulloch in "the Literature of 
Political Economy, a classified catalogue, Load. 1845," praises Barbon for this anti 
cipation, but prudently passes over the nai ve forms, in which Barbon clothes the 
absurd supposition on which the "currency principle " is based. The absence of real 
criticism and even of honesty, in that catalogue, culminates in the sections devoted 
to the history of the theory of money ; the reason is that MacCulloch in this part of 
the work is flattering Lord Overstone whom he calls "facile princeps argentariorum." 

1 For instance, in subsidies, money loans for carrying on wars or for enabling banks 
to resume cash payments, &n.. it is the money form, and no other, of value that maj 
be wanted. 

Money, or the Circulation of Commodities. 121 

the markets of the world. The functions of hoards, therefore, 
arise in part out of the function of money, as the medium of 
the home circulation and home payments, and in part out 
of its function of money of the world. 1 For this latter func 
tion, the genuine money-commodity, actual gold and silver, is 
necessary. On that account, Sir James Steuart, in order to 
distinguish them from their purely local substitutes, calls gold 
and silver "money of the world." 

The current of the stream of gold and silver is a double one. 
On the one hand, it spreads itself from its sources over all the 
markets of the world, in order to become absorbed, to various 
extents, into the different national spheres of circulation, to 
fill the conduits of currency, to replace abraded gold and silver 
coins, to supply the material of articles of luxury, and to 
petrify into hoards. 8 This first current is started by the 
countries that exchange their labour, realised in commodities, 


for the labour embodied in the precious metals by gold and 
silver-producing countries. On the other hand, there is a con 
tinual flowing backwards and forwards of gold and silver be 
tween the different national spheres of circulation, a current 
whose motion depends on the ceaseless fluctuations in the 
course of exchange. 8 

Countries in which the bourgeois form of production is de 
veloped to a certain extent, limit the hoards concentrated in 
the strong rooms of the banks to the minimum required for 

1 * I would desire, indeed, no more convincing evidence of the competency of the 
machinery of the hoards in specie-paying countries to perform every necessary office 
of international adjustment, without any sensible aid from the general circulation, 
than the facility with which France, when but just recovering from the shock of a 
destructive foreign invasion, completed within the space of 27 months the payment 
of her forced contribution of nearly 20 millions to the allied powers, and a consider 
able proportion of the sum in specie, without any perceptible contraction or derange 
ment of her domestic currency, or even any alarming fluctuation of her exchanges." 
(Fullarton, 1. c., p. 134.) 

3 " L argent se partage entre les nations relativement au besoin qu elles en ont . . . 
etant toujours attir6 par les productions." (Le Trosne 1. c., p. 916.) "The mines 
which are continually giving gold and silver, do give sufficient to supply such a need 
ful balance to every nation." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 40.) 

3 " Exchanges rise and fall every week, and at some particular times in the year 
run high against a nation, and at other times run as high on the contrary." (N. 
Barbon, 1. c.,p. 39.) 

122 Capitalist Production. 

the proper performance of their peculiar functions. 1 When 
ever these hoards are strikingly above their average level, it 
is, with some exceptions, an indication of stagnation in the 
circulation of commodities, of an interruption in the even flow 

of their metamorphoses. 3 


i These various functions are liable to come into (Dangerous conflict with one an 
other whenever gold and silver have also to serve as a fund for the conversion of bank 

8 " What money is more than of absolute necessity for a Home Trade, is dead 
stock . . . and brings no profit to that country it s kept in, but as it is transported in 
trade, as well as imported." ( John Bellers, Essays, p. 12.) "What if we have too 
much coin ? We may melt down the heaviest and turn it Into the splendour of plate r 
vessels or utensils of gold or silver ; or send it out as a commodity, where the same 
is wanted or desired ; or let it out at interest, where interest is high. " (W. Petty : 
" Quantulumcunque," p. 39.) " Money is but the fat of the Body Politick, whereof 
too much doth as often hinder its agility, as too little makes it sick .... as fat 
lubricates the motion of the muscles, feeds in want of victuals, fills up the uneven 
cavities, and beautifies the body ; so doth money in the state quicken its action, feeds 
from abroad In time of dearth at home ; evens accounts . . and beautifies the whole. 
altho more especially the particular persons that have it in plenty." (W. Petti 
" Political Anatomy of Ireland," p. 






THE circulation of commodities is the starting point of capital. 
The production of commodities, their circulation, and that more 
developed form of their circulation called commerce, these form 
the historical groundwork from which it rises. The modern 
history of capital dates from the creation in the 16th century 
of a world-embracing commerce and a world-embracing market- 

If we abstract from the material substance of the circulation 
of commodities, that is, from the exchange of the various use- 
values, and consider only the economic forms produced by this 
process of circulation, we find its final result to be money : this 
final product of the circulation of commodities is the first form 
in which capital appears. 

As a matter of history, capital, as opposed to landed property, 
invariably takes the form at first of money ; it appears as 
moneyed wealth, as the capital of the merchant and of the 
usurer. 1 But we have no need to refer to the origin of capital 
in order to discover that the first form of appearance of capital 
is money. We can see it daily under our very eyes. All new 
capital, to commence with, comes on the stage, that is, on the 
market, whether of commodities, labour, or money, even in our 

1 The contrast between the power, based on the personal relations of dominion and 
servitude, that ia conferred by landed property, and the impersonal power that is- 
given by money, is well expressed by the two French proverbs, " Nulle terre san 
eigneur," and " L argent n a pas de maitre." 

124 Capitalist Production. 

days, in the shape of money that by a definite process has to 
be transformed into capital. 

The first distinction we notice between money that is money 
only, and money that is capital, is nothing more than a differ 
ence in their form of circulation. 

The simplest form of the circulation of commodities is 
M C, the transformation of commodities into money, and the 
change of the money back again into commodities ; or selling in 
order to buy. But alongside of this form we find another 
specifically different form: M C M, the transformation of 
money into commodities, and the change of commodities back 
again into money ; or buying in order to sell. Money that 
circulates in the latter manner is thereby transformed into, be 
comes capital, and is already potentially capital. 

Now let us examine the circuit M M a little closer. It 
consists, like the other, of two antithetical phases. In the first 
phase, M C, or the purchase, the money is changed into a com 
modity. In the second phase, C M, or the sale, the commodity 
is changed back again into money. The combination of these 
two phases constitutes the single movement whereby money is 
exchanged for a commodity, and the same commodity is again 
exchanged for money; whereby a commodity is bought in order 
to be sold, or, neglecting the distinction in form between buying 
and selling, whereby a commodity is bought with money, and 
then money is bought with a commodity. 1 The result, in which 
the phases of the process vanish, is the exchange of money for 
money, M M. If I purchase 2000 Ibs. of cotton for 100, and 
resell the 2000 Ibs. of cotton for 110, 1 have, in fact, exchanged 
100 for 110, money for money. 

Now it is evident that the circuit M C M would be 
absurd and without meaning if the intention were to exchange 
by this means two equal sums of money, 100 for 100. The 
miser s plan would be far simpler and surer ; he sticks to his 
100 instead of exposing it to the dangers of circulation. And 
yet, whether the merchant who has paid 100 for his cotton 

1 " Avec de 1 argent on ach&te des marchandises, et avec des marchandises on 
achete de 1 argent." (Mercier de la Riviere : " L ordre naturel et essentiel des societes 
politiques," p. 543.) 

The General Formula for Capital. 125 

sells it for 110, or lets it go for 100, or even 50, his money 
has, at all events, gone through a characteristic and original 
movement, quite different in kind from that which it goes 
through in the hands of the peasant who sells corn, and with 
the money thus set free buys clothes. We have therefore to 
examine first the distinguishing characteristics of the forms of 
the circuits M C M and C M C, and in doing this the 
real difference that underlies the mere difference of form will 
reveal itself. 

Let us see, in the first place, what the two forms have in 

Both circuits are resolvable into the same two antithetical 
phases, C M, a sale, and M C, a purchase. In each of these 
phases the same material elements a commodity, and money, 
and the same economical dramatis personas, a buyer and a 
seller confront one another. Each circuit is the unity of the 
same two antithetical phases, and in each case this unity is 
brought about by the intervention of three contracting parties, 
of whom one only sells, another only buys, while the third both 
buys and sells. 

What, however, first and foremost distinguishes the circuit 
C M C from the circuit M C M, is the inverted order of 
succession of the two phases. The simple circulation of com 
modities begins with a sale and ends with a purchase, while 
the circulation of money as capital begins with a purchase 
and ends with a sale. In the one case both the starting- 
point and the goal are commodities, in the other they are 
money. In the first form the movement is brought about 
by the intervention of money, in the second by that of a 

In the circulation C M C, the money is in the end con 
verted into a commodity, that serves as a use- value ; it is spent 
once for all. In the inverted form, M C M, on the contrary, 
the buyer lays out money in order that, as a seller, he 
may recover money. By the purchase of his commodity 
he throws money into circulation, in order to withdraw 
it again by the sale of the same commodity. fie lets the 
money go, but only with the sly intention of getting it 

126 Capitalist Production. 

back again. The money, therefore, is not spent, it is merely 
advanced. 1 

In the circuit C M C, the same piece of money changes 
its place twice. The seller gets it from the buyer and pays it 
away to another seller. The complete circulation, which begins 
with the receipt, concludes with the payment, of money for 
commodities. It is the very contrary in the circuit M C M. 
Here it is not the piece of money that changes its place twice, 
but the commodity. The buyer takes it from the hands of 
the seller and passes it into the hands of another buyer. Just 
as in the simple circulation of commodities the double change 
of place of the same piece of money effects its passage from one 
hand into another, so here the double change of place of the 
same commodity brings about the reflux of the money to its 
point of departure. 

Such reflux is not dependent on the commodity being sold 
for more than was paid for it. This circumstance influences 
only the amount of the money that comes back. The reflux 
itself takes place, so soon as the purchased commodity is re 
sold, in other words, so soon as the circuit M C M is com 
pleted. We have here, therefore, a palpable difference between 
the circulation of money as capital, and its circulation as mere 

The circuit C M C comes completely to an end, so soon 
as the money brought in by the sale of one commodity is 
abstracted again by the purchase of another. 

If, nevertheless, there follows a reflux of money to its start 
ing point, this can only happen through a renewal or repeti 
tion of the operation. If I sell a quarter of corn for 3, and 
with this 3 buy clothes, the money, so far as I am concerned, 
is spent and done with. It belongs to the clothes merchant. 
If I now sell a second quarter of corn, money indeed flows 
back to me, not however as a sequel to the first transaction, 
but in eonsequence of its repetition. The money again leaves 
me, so soon as I complete this second transaction by a fresh 

1 " When a thing is bought in order to be sold again, the sum employed is called 
money advanced ; when it is bought not to be sold, it may be said to be expended." 
(James Steuart : " Works, " &c. Edited by Gen. Sir James Steuart, his son. Lortd., 
1805. V. I., p. 274.) 

The General Formula for Capital. 127 

purchase. Therefore, in the circuit C M C, the expenditure 
of money has nothing to do with its reflux. On the other 
hand, in M C M, the reflux of the money is conditioned by 
the very mode of its expenditure. Without this reflux, the 
operation fails, or the process is interrupted and incomplete, 
owing to the absence of its complementary and final phase, the 

The circuit C M C starts with one commodity, and 
finishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into 
consumption. Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in One 
word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M C M, 
on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money. 
Its leading motive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore 
mere exchange value. 

In the simple circulation of commodities, the two extremes of 
the circuit have the same economic form. They are both com 
modities, and commodities of equal value. But they are also 
use- values differing in their qualities, as, for example, corn and 
clothes. The exchange of products, of the different materials in 
which the labour of society is embodied, forms here the basis 
of the movement. It is otherwise in the circulation M C M, 
which at first sight appears purposeless, because tautological. 
Both extremes have the same economic form. They are both 
money, and therefore are not qualitatively different use- values ; 
for money is but the converted form of commodities, in which 
their particular use-values vanish. To exchange 100 for 
cotton, and then this same cotton again for 100, is merely a 
roundabout way of exchanging money for money, the same for 
the same, and appears to be an operation just as purposeless as 
it is absurd. 1 One sum of money is distinguishable from another 

1 "On n echange pas de 1 argent centre de 1 argent," says Mercier de la Riviere to 
the Mercantilists (L c., p. 486.) In a work, which, ex professo, treati of " trade " and 
" speculation," occurs the following : " All trade consists in the exchange of things 
of different kinds; and the advantage" (to the merchant?) "arises out of this 
difference. To exchange a pound of bread against a pound of bread .... 
would be attended with no advantage ; . . . . Hence trade is advantageously 
contrasted with gambling, which consists in a mere exchange of money for money." 
(Th. Corbet, " An Inquiry into the Causes and Modes of the Wealth of Individuals ; 
or the Principles of Trade and Speculation explained." London, 1841, p. 5.) Although 
Corbet does not see that M M, the exchange of money for money, is the characteristic 

128 Capitalist Production. 

only by its amount. The character and tendency of the pro 
cess M C M, is therefore not due to any qualitative difference 
between its extremes, both being money, but solely to their 
quantitative difference. More money is withdrawn from circula 
tion at the finish than was thrown into it at the start. The 
cotton that was bought for 100 is perhaps resold for 100 + 
10 or 110. The exact form of this process is therefore M 
C M , where M = M 4- A M = the original sum advanced, 
plus an increment. This increment or excess over the original 
value I call " surplus-value." The value originally advanced, 
therefore, not only remains intact while in circulation, but adds 
to itself a surplus-value or expands itself. It is this movement 
that converts it into capital. 

Of course, it is also possible, that in C M C, the two 
extremes G C, say corn and clothes, may represent different 
quantities of value. The farmer may sell his corn above its 
value, or may buy the clothes at less than their value. He 
may, on the other hand, " be done " by the clothes merchant. 
Yet, in the form of circulation now under consideration, such 
differences in value are purely accidental. The fact that the 
corn and the clothes are equivalents, does not deprive the pro 
cess of all meaning, as it does in M C M. The equivalence 
of their values is rather a necessary condition to its normal 

The repetition or renewal of the act of selling in order to 
buy, is kept within bounds by the very object it aims at, 
namely, consumption or the satisfaction of definite wants, an 
aim that lies altogether outside the sphere of circulation. But 
when we buy in order to sell, we, on the contrary, begin and 

form of circulation, not only of merchants capital but of all capital, yet at least he 
acknowledges that this form is common to gambling and to one species of trade, viz., 
speculation : but then comes MacCulloch and makes out, that to buy in order to sell, 
is to speculate, and thus the difference between Speculation and Trade vanishes. 
Every transaction in which an individual buys produce in order to sell it again, is, 
in fact, a speculation." (MacCulloch : " A Dictionary Practical, &c., of Commerce." 
Lond., 1847, p. 1058.) With much more naivete, Pinto, the Pindar of the Amster 
dam Stock Exchange, remarks, "Le commerce est un jeu : (taken from Locke) et ce 
n est pas avec des gueux qu on peut gagner. Si 1 on gagnait long-temps en tout aveo 
tous, il faudrait rendre de bon accord les plus grandes parties du profit pour recom- 
mencer le jeu.* (Pinto : " Traite de la Circulation et du Credit." Amsterdam, 1771 f 
p. 231.) 

The Central Formula for Capital. 129 

end with the same thing, money, exchange-value ; and thereby 
the movement becomes interminable. No doubt, M becomes 
M 4- A M, 100 become 110. But when viewed in their 
qualitative aspect alone, 110 are the same as 100, namely 
money; and considered quantitatively, 110 is, like 100, a 
sum of definite and limited value. If now, the 110 be spent 
as money, they cease to play their part. They are no longer 
capital. Withdrawn from circulation, they become petriiied 
into a hoard, and though they remained in that state till 
doomsday, not a single farthing would accrue to them. If, 
then, the expansion of value is once aimed at, there is just the 
same inducement to augment the value of the 110 as that of 
the 100 ; for both are but limited expressions for exchange- 
value, and therefore both have the same vocation to approach* 
by quantitative increase, as near as possible to absolute wealth. 
Momentarily, indeed, the value originally advanced, the 100 
is distinguishable from the surplus value of 10 that is an 
nexed to it during circulation ; but the distinction vanishes 
immediately. At the end of the process, we do not receive 
with one hand the original 100, and with the other, the 
surplus- value of 10. We simply get a value of 110, which 
is in exactly the same condition and fitness for commencing 
the expanding process, as the original 100 was. Money ends 
the movement only to begin it again. 1 Therefore, the final 
result of every separate circuit, in which a purchase and con 
sequent sale are completed, forms of itself the starting point 
of a new circuit. The simple circulation of commodities 
selling in order to buy is a means of carrying out a purpose 
unconnected with circulation, namely, the appropriation of 
use- values, the satisfaction of wants. The circulation of money 
as capital is, on the contrary, an end in itself, for the expansion 
of value takes place only within this constantly renewed 
movement. The circulation of capital has therefore no limits.* 

1 " Capital is divisible .... into the original capital and the profit, the increment 
to the capital .... although in practice this profit is immediately turned into 
capital, and set in motion with the original." (F. Engels, "Umrisse zu einer Kritik 
der Nationalokonomie, in: Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, herausgegeben von 
Arnold Huge und Karl Marx." Paris, 1844, p. 99.) 

3 Aristotle opposes (Economic to Chrematistic. He starts from the former. So 
far as it is the art of gaining a livelihood, it is limited to procuring those articles 

13 Capitalist Production. 

Thus the conscious representative of this movement, the 
possessor of money becomes a capitalist. His person, or rather 
his pocket, is the point from which the money starts and to 
which it returns. The expansion of value, which is the 
objective basis or main-spring of the circulation M C M, 
becomes his subjective aim, and it is only in so far as the 
appropriation of ever more and more wealth in the abstract 
becomes the sole motive of his operations, that he functions as 
a capitalist, that is, as capital personified and endowed with 
consciousness and a will. Use-values must therefore never 
be looked upon as the real aim of the capitalist; 1 neither 
must the profit on any single transaction. The restless never- 
ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at. 8 

that are necessary to existence, and useful either to a household or the state. " True 
wealth (o dXw^vflf JTXUT<JJ) consists of such values in use ; for the quantity of pos 
sessions of this kind, capable of making life pleasant, is not unlimited. There is, 
however, a second mode of acquiring things, to which we may by preference and 
with correctness give the name of Chrematistic, and in this case there appear to be 
no limits to riches and possessions. Trade ( x-X/x is literally retail trade, and 
Aristotle takes this kind because in it values in use predominate) does not in its 
nature belong to Chrematistic, for here the exchange has reference only to what is 
necessary to themselves (the buyer or seller). " Therefore, as he goes on to show, 
the original form of trade was barter, but with the extension of the latter, there 
arose the necessity for money. On the discovery of money, barter of necessity de 
veloped into xwx/*w, into trading in commodities, and this again, in opposition to 
its original tendency, grew into Chrematistic, into the art of making money. Now 
Chrematistic is distinguishable from (Economic in this way, that " in the case of 
Chrematistic, circulation is the source of riches (rijT<* xpnftttru* . . . . 3* 
xp*fjt.&<ruv ^a/3o\5js). And it appears to revolve about money, for money is the be 
ginning and end of this kind of exchange (rt >ydp va/^iffta frontier x.a.1 <rifa.s T#* 
ctXXayTJs Ifrtt). Therefore also riches, such as Chrematistic strives for, are un 
limited. Just as every art that is not a means to an end, but an end in itself, has 
no limit to its aims, because it seeks constantly to approach nearer and nearer to 
that end, while those arts that pursue means to an end, are not boundless, since 
the goal itself imposes a limit upon them, so with Chrematistic, there are no bounds 
to its aims, these aims being absolute wealth. (Economic not Chrematistic has a 
limit .... the object of the former is something different from money, of the 
jfatter the augmentation of money .... By confounding these two forms, which 
overlap each other, some people have been led to look upon the preservation and 
increase of money ad infinitum as the end and aim of (Economic. " (Aristoteles De 
Rep. edit. Bekker. lib. I. c. 8, 9. passim.) 

1 "Commodities (here used in the sense of use-values) are not the terminating object 
of the trading capitalist, money is his terminating object." (Th. Chalmers, On Pol. 
Econ. &c., 2nd Ed., Glasgow, 1832, p. 165, 166.) 

* H mercante non conta quasi per niente il lucro fatto, ma mira sempre al future. 
(A. Genovesi, Lezioni di Econoraia Civile (1765), Custodi s edit, of Italian Economists. 
Farte Moderna t. viii. p. 

The General Formula for Capital. 1 3 r 

This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after 
exchange- value, 1 is common to the capitalist and the miser ; 
but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the 
capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation 
of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by seeking to 
save 8 his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute 
capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circulation. 8 

The independent form, i.e, y the money-form, which the value 
of commodities assumes in the case of simple circulation, serves 
only one purpose, namely, their exchange, and vanishes in the 
final result of the movement. On the other hand, in the circula 
tion H C M, both the money and the commodity represent 
only different modes of existence of value itself, the money its 
general mode, and the commodity its particular, or, so to say, 
disguised mode. 4 It is constantly changing from one form to 
the other without thereby becoming lost, and thus assumes an 
automatically active character. If now we take in turn each 
of the two different forms which self-expanding value suc 
cessively assumes in the course of its life, we then arrive at 
these two propositions : Capital is money : Capital is com 
modities. 5 In truth, however, value is here the active factor in 
a process, in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn 
of money and commodities, it at the same time changes in 
magnitude, differentiates itself by throwing off surplus- value 
from itself; the original value, in other words, expands spon 
taneously. For the movement, in the course of which it adds 
surplus value, is its own movement, its expansion, therefore, is 

1 "The inextinguishable passion for gain, the auri sacra fames, will always lead 
capitalists. " (MacCulloch : " The principles of Polit. Econ. " London, 1830, p. 179. ) This 
view, of course, does not prevent the same MacCulloch and others of his kidney, 
when in theoretical difficulties, such, for example, as the question of over-production, 
from transforming the same capitalist into a moral citizen, whose sole concern is for 
use-values, and who even developes an insatiable hunger for boots, hats, eggs, calico, 
and other extremely familiar sorts of use-values. 

2 2<wm is a characteristic Greek expression for hoarding. So in English to save 
has the same two meanings : sauver and epargner. 

3 " Questo infinite che le cose non hanno in progresso, hanno in giro." (Galiani.) 

1 " Ce n est pas la matiere qui fait le capital, mais la valeur de ces matieres." (J. 
B. Say : "Traite de 1 Econ. Polit." 3 erne. ed. Paris, 1817, t. 1., p. 428.) 

5 " Currency (!) employed in producing articles ... is capital." (MacLeod : "Tha 
Theory and Practice of Banking." London, 1855, v. 1., ch. i., p. 55.) "Capital is com 
modities." (James Mill : " Elements of Pol. Econ." Lond., 1821, p. 74.) 

132 Capitalist Production. 

automatic expansion. Because it is value, it has acquired the- 
occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings 
forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs. 

Value, therefore, being the active factor in such a process, 
and assuming at one time the form of money, at another that 
of commodities, but through all these changes preserving itself 
and expanding, it requires some independent form, by means of 
which its identity may at any time be established. And this 
form it possesses only in the shape of money. It is under the 
form of money that value begins and ends, and begins again, 
every act of its own spontaneous generation. It began by 
being 100, it is now 110, and so on. But the money itself 
is only one of the two forms of value. Unless it takes the form 
of some commodity, it does not become capital. There is here 
no antagonism, as in the case of hoarding, between the money 
and commodities. The capitalist knows that all commodities,, 
however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may 
smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised 
Jews, and what is more, a wonderful means whereby out of 
money to make more money. 

In simple circulation, C M C, the value of commodities 
attained at the most a form independent of their use- values, i.e., 
the form of money ; but that same value now in the circulation 
M C M, or the circulation of capital, suddenly presents itself 
as an independent substance, endowed with a motion of its own, 
passing through a life-process of its own, in which money and 
commodities are mere forms which it assumes and casts off in 
turn. Nay, more: instead of simply representing the relations 
of commodities, it enters now, so to say, into private relations 
with itself. It differentiates itself as original value from itself 
as surplus- value; as the father differentiates himself from himself 
qua the son,yet both are one and of one age: for only by the surplus 
value of 10 does the 100 originally advanced become capital, 
and so soon as this takes place, so soon as the son, and by the 
son, the father, is begotten, so soon does their difference vanish, 
and they again become one, 110. 

Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in pro 
cess, and, as such, capital. It comes out of circulation, enters 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 133 

into it again, preserves and multiplies itself within its circuit, 
comes back out of it with expanded bulk, and begins the same 
round ever afresh. 1 M M , money which begets money, 
such is the description of Capital from the mouths of its first 
interpreters, the Mercantilists. 

Buying in order to sell, or, more accurately, buying in order 
to sell dearer, M C M , appears certainly to be a form 
peculiar to one kind of capital alone, namely, merchants capital. 
But industrial capital too is money, that is changed into com 
modities, and by the sale of these commodities, is re-converted 
into more money. The events that take place outside the 
sphere of circulation, in the interval between the buying and 
selling, do not affect the form of this movement. Lastly, in the 
case of interest-bearing capital, the circulation M C M 
appears abridged. We have its result without the intermediate 
stage, in the form M M , " en style lapidaire " so to say, money 
that is worth more money, value that is greater than itself. 

M C M is therefore in reality the general formula of 
capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation. 



THE form which circulation takes when money becomes 
capital, is opposed to all the laws we have hitherto investigated 
bearing on the nature of commodities, value and money, and 
even of circulation itself. What distinguishes this form from 


that of the simple circulation of commodities, is the inverted 
order of succession of the two antithetical processes, sale and 
purchase. How can this purely formal distinction between 
these processes change their character as it were by magic ? 

But that is not all. This inversion has no existence for two 
out of the three persons who transact business together. As 
capitalist, I buy commodities from A and sell them again to B, 

1 Capital : " portion fructifiante de la richesse accumulee . . . valeur permanente, 
jnultipliante." (Sismondi : "Nouveaux principea de 1 econ. polit.," t. i., p. 88, 89.) 

134 Capitalist Production. 

but as a simple owner of commodities, I sell them to B and then 
purchase fresh ones from A. A and B see no difference 
between the two sets of transactions. They are merely buyers 
or sellers. And I on each occasion meet them as a mere owner 
of either money or commodities, as a buyer or a seller, and, 
what is more, in both sets of transactions, I am opposed to A 
only as a buyer and to B only as a seller, to the one only a* 
money, to the other only as commodities, and to neither 01 
them as capital or a capitalist, or as representative of anything 
that is more than money or commodities, or that can produce 
any effect beyond what money and commodities can. For me 
the purchase from A and the sale to B are part of a series. 
But the connexion between the two acts exists for me alone. 
A does not trouble himself about my transaction with B, nor 
does B about my business with A. And if I offered to explain 
to them the meritorious nature of my action in inverting the 
order of succession, they would probably point out to me that 
I was mistaken as to that order of succession, and that the 
whole transaction, instead of beginning with a purchase and 
ending with a sale, began, on the contrary, with a sale and was 
concluded with a purchase. In truth, my first act, the purchase, 
was from the standpoint of A, a sale, and my second act, the 
sale, was from the standpoint of B, a purchase. Not content 
with that, A and B would declare that the whole series was 
superfluous and nothing but Hokus Pokus ; that for the future 
A would buy direct from B, and B sell direct to A. Thus the 
whole transaction would be reduced to a single act forming an 
isolated, non-complemented phase in the ordinary circulation 
of commodities, a mere sale from A s point of view, and from 
B s, a mere purchase. The inversion, therefore, of the order of 
succession, does not take us outside the sphere of the simple 
circulation of commodities, and we must rather look, whether 
there is in this simple circulation anything permitting an ex 
pansion of the value that enters into circulation, and, con 
sequently, a creation of surplus- value. 

Let us take the process of circulation in a form under which 
it presents itself as a simple and direct exchange of commodities. 
This is always the case when two owners of commodities buy 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 135 

from each other, and on the settling day the amounts mutually 
owing are equal and cancel each other. The money in this 
case is money of account and serves to express the value of the 
commodities by their prices, but is not, itself, in the shape of 
hard cash, confronted with them. So far as regards use-values, 
it is clear that both parties may gain some advantage. Both 
part with goods that, as use-values, are of no service to them, 
and receive others that they can make use of. And there may 
also be a further gain. A, who sells wine and buys corn, 
possibly produces more wine, with given labour time, than 
farmer B could, and B, on the other hand, more corn than 
wine-grower A could. A, therefore, may get, for the same 
exchange value, more corn, and B more wine, than each would 
respectively get without any exchange by producing his own 
corn and wine. With reference, therefore, to use- value, there 
is good ground for saying that " exchange is a transaction by 
which both sides gain." * It is otherwise with exchange-value. 
" A man who has plenty of wine and no corn treats with a man 
who has plenty of corn and no wine ; an exchange takes place 
between them of corn to the value of 50, for wine of the same 
value. This act produces no increase of exchange- value either 
for the one or the other ; for each of them already possessed, 
before the exchange, a value equal to that which he acquired 
by means of that operation." * The result is not altered by 
introducing money, as a medium of circulation, between the 
commodities, and making the sale and the purchase two distinct 
acts. 8 The value of a commodity is expressed in its price 
before it goes into circulation, and is therefore a precedent 
condition of circulation, not its result. 4 

Abstractedly considered, that is, apart from circumstances 
not immediately flowing from the laws of the simple circulation 
of commodities, there is in an exchange nothing (if we except 

1 "L echange est une transaction admirable dans laquelle les deux coiitractants 
gagnent toujours (!) " (Destutt de Tracy : "Traite de la Volonte et de ses effets." 
Paris, 1826, p. 68.) This work appeared afterwards as "Traite de 1 Econ. Pollt." 

a " Mercier de la Riviere," 1. c. p. 544. 

3 " Que 1 une de ces deux valeurs soit argent, ou qu elles soient toutes deux mar. 
chaiidisesusuelles,riende plus indifferent en soi." ("Mercier de la Kiviere/ l. c. p. 543.) 

4 " Ce ne sont pas les contractants qui prononcent sui la valeur ; elle est decidee 
avant la convention." (" Le Trosne," p. 906.) 

136 Capitalist Production. 

the replacing of one use-value by another) but a metamorphosis, 
a mere change in the form of the commodity. The same 
exchange value, i.e., the same quantity of incorporated social 
labour, remains throughout in the hands of the owner of the 
commodity, first in the shape of his own commodity, then in 
the form of the money for which he exchanged it, and lastly, 
in the shape of the commodity he buys with that money. 
This change of form does not imply a change in the magnitude 
of the value. But the change, which the value of the 
commodity undergoes in this process, is limited to a change in 
its money form. This form exists first as the price of the com 
modity offered for sale, then as an actual sum of money, which, 
however, was already expressed in the price, and lastly, as the 
price of an equivalent commodity. This change of form no 
more implies, taken alone, a change in the quantity of value, 
than does the change of a 5 note into sovereigns, half sove 
reigns and shillings. So far therefore as the circulation of 
commodities effects a change in the form alone of their values, 
and is free from disturbing influences, it must be the exchange 
of equivalents. Little as Vulgar-Economy knows about the 
nature of value, yet whenever it wishes to consider the 
phenomena of circulation in their purity, it assumes that supply 
and demand are equal, which amounts to this, that their effect 
is nil. If therefore, as regards the use- values exchanged, both 
buyer and seller may possibly gain something, this is not the 
case as regards the exchange values. Here we must rather say> 
"Where equality exists there can be no gain." 1 It is true, 
commodities may be sold at prices deviating from their values, 
but these deviations are to be considered as infractions of the 
laws of the exchange of commodities, 2 which in its normal 
state is an exchange of equivalents, consequently, no method 
for increasing value.* 

Hence, we see that behind all attempts to represent the 

1 "Dove & egualita non & lucro." (Galiani, "Delia Moneta in Custodi, Parte 
Moderna," t. iv. p. 244.) 

2 " L e"change devient de savantageux pour 1 une des parties, lorsque quelque chose 
6trange"re vient diminuer ou exagerer le prix ; alors 1 egalite est blesse"e, mais la lesion 
procede de cette cause et non de 1 echange." ("Le Trosne," 1. c. p. 904.) 

3 "L echange est de sa nature un contrat d egalite qui se fait de valeur pour valenir 
egale. II n est done pas un moyen de s enriehir, puisque 1 on donne autant quo Ton 
recoit." (" Le Trosne," L c. p. 903.) 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 137 

circulation of commodities as a source of surplus-value, there 
lurks a quid pro quo, a mixing up of use- value and exchange- 
value. For instance, Condillac says : " It is not true that on 
an exchange of commodities we give value for value. On the 
contrary, each of the two contracting parties in every case, 
gives a less for a greater value. . . . If " we really exchanged 
equal values, neither party could make a profit. And yet, they 
both gain, or ought to gain. Why ? The value of a thing 
consists solely in its relation to our wants. What is more to 
the one is less to the other, and vice versd. ... It is not to be 
assumed that we offer for sale articles required for our own 
consumption. . . . We wish to part with a useless thing, in 
order to get one that we need ; we want to give less for more. 
... It was natural to think that, in an exchange, value was 
given for value, whenever each of the articles exchanged was 
of equal value with the same quantity of gold. . . . But there 
is another point to be considered in our calculation. The 
question is, whether we both exchange something superfluous 
for something necessary." * We see in this passage, how Con 
dillac not only confuses use-value with exchange- value, but 
in a really childish manner assumes, that in a society, in which 
the production of commodities is well developed, each producer 
produces his own means of subsistence, and throws into circu 
lation only the excess over his own requirements. 8 Still, 
Condillac s argument is frequently used by modern economists, 
more especially when the point is to show, that the exchange 
of commodities in its developed form, commerce, is productive 
of surplus- value. For instance, " Commerce .... adds value to 
products, for the same products in the hands of consumers, are 
worth more than in the hands of producers, and it may strictly 

1 Condillac : " Le Commerce et le Gouvernement " (1776). Edit. Daire et Molinari 
in the "Melanges d Econ. Polit." Paris, 1847, p. 267, etc. 

9 LeTrosne, therefore, answers his friend Condillac with justice as follows: "Dans 
une . . . societe formee il n y a pas de surabondant en aucun genre." At the same time, 
in a bantering way, he remarks : "If both the persons who exchange receive mote 
to an equal amount, and part with less to an equal amount, they both get the same." 
It is because Condillac has not the remotest idea of the nature of exchange-value 
that he has been chosen by Herr Professor Wilhelm Koscher as a proper person 
to answer for the soundness of his own childish notions. See Koscher s "Die Grund 
lagen der Nationalokonomie, Dritte Auflage," J858. 

138 Capitalist Production. 

be considered an act of production." 1 But commodities are not 
paid for twice over, once on account of their use- value, and 
again on account of their value. And though the use- value of 
a commodity is more serviceable to the buyer than to the 
seller, its money form is more serviceable to the seller. Would 
he otherwise sell it? We might therefore just as well say 
that the buyer performs " strictly an act of production," by 
converting stockings, for example, into money. 

If commodities, or commodities and money, of equal exchange- 
value, and consequently equivalents, are exchanged, it is plain 
that no one abstracts more value from, than he throws into, 
circulation. There is no creation of surplus- value. And, in 
its normal form, the circulation of commodities demands the 
exchange of equivalents. But in actual practice, the process 
does not retain its normal form. Let us, therefore, assume an 
exchange of non-equivalents. 

In any case the market for commodities is only frequented 
by owners of commodities, and the power which these persons 
exercise over each other, is no other than the power of their 
commodities. The material variety of these commodities is 
the material incentive to the act of exchange, and makes 
buyers and sellers mutually dependent, because none of them 
possesses the object of his own wants, and each holds in his 
hand the object of another s wants. Besides these material 
differences of their use- values, there is only one other difference 
between commodities, namely, that between their bodily form 
and the form into which they are converted by sale, the differ 
ence between commodities and money. And consequently the 
owners of commodities are distinguishable only as sellers, those 
who own commodities, and buyers, those who own money. 

Suppose then, that by some inexplicable privilege, the seller 
is enabled to sell his commodities above their value, what is 
worth 100 for 110, in which case the price is nominally raised 
10%. The seller therefore pockets a surplus value of 10. 
But after he has sold he becomes a buyer. A third owner of 
commodities comes to him now as seller, who in this capacity 
also enjoys the privilege of selling his commodities 10% too 

1 S. P. Newman: "Elements of Polit. Boon." Andover and New York, 18S5, p. 175. 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 139 

dear. Our friend gained 10 as a seller only to lose it again as 
a buyer. 1 The nett result is, that all owners of commodities 
sell their goods to one another at 10% above their value, which 
comes precisely to the same as if they sold them at their true 
value. Such a general and nominal rise of prices has the same 
effect as if the values had been expressed in weight of silver 
instead of in weight of gold. The nominal prices of com- 

o r^ 

modities would rise, but the real relation between their values 
would remain unchanged. 

Let us make the opposite assumption, that the buyer has 
the privilege of purchasing commodities under their value. 
In this case it is no longer necessary to bear in mind that he 
in his turn will become a seller. He was so before he became 
buyer ; he had already lost 10% in selling before he gained 
10% as buyer." Everything is just as it was. 

The creation of surplus-value, and therefore the conversion 
of money into capital, can consequently be explained neither 
on the assumption that commodities are sold above their value, 
nor that they are bought below their value. 3 

The problem is in no way simplified by introducing irrele 
vant matters after the manner of Col. Torrens : " Effectual 
demand consists in the power and inclination (!), on the part of 
consumers, to give for commodities, either by immediate or 
circuitous barter, some greater portion of ... capital than their 
production costs." 4 In relation to circulation, producers and 
consumers meet only as buyers and sellers. To assert that the 
surplus-value acquired by the producer has its origin in the 
fact that consumers pay for commodities more than their value, 

1 "By the augmentation of the nominal value of the produce . . . sellers not en 
riched . . . since what they gain as sellers, they precisely expend in the quality of 
buyers." (" The Essential Principles of the "Wealth of Nations," &c., London, 1797, 
p. 66.) 

2 " Si 1 on est force de donner pour 18 livres une quantite de telle production qui 
*n valait 24, lorsqu on employera ce m6me argent a acheter, on aura egalement pour 
18 1. ce que 1 on payait 24." (" Le Trosne," 1. c. p. 897.) 

3 Chaque vendeur ne peut done parvenir a rencherir habituellement ses marchan- 
dises, qu en se soumettant aussi a payer habituellement plus cher les marchandisea- 
des autres vendeurs ; et par la mgme raison, chaque consommateur ne peut payer 
habituellement moins cher ce qu il achete, qu en se soumettant aussi a une diminu 
tion semblable sur le prix des choses qu il vend." (" Mercier de la JRivie re," 1. c. p. 555.)- 

4 R. Torrens : "An Essay on the Production of Wealth." London, 1821, p. 349. 

140 Capitalist Production. 

is only to say in other words : The owner of commodities pos 
sesses, as a seller, the privilege of selling too dear. The oeller 
has himself produced the commoditievS or represents their pro 
ducer, but the buyer has to no less extent produced the com 
modities represented by his money, or represents their pro 
ducer. The distinction between them is, that one buys and 
the other sells. The fact that the owner of the commodities, 
under the designation of producer, sells them over their value, 
and under the designation of consumer, pays too much for 
them, does not carry us a single step further. 1 

To be consistent therefore, the upholders of the delusion that 
surplus- value has its origin in a nominal rise of prices or in the 
privilege which the seller has of selling too dear, must assume 
the existence of a class that only buys and does not sell, i.e., 
only consumes and does not produce. The existence of such a 
class is inexplicable from the standpoint we have so far reached, 
viz., that of simple circulation. But let us anticipate. The 
money with which such a class is constantly making purchases, 
must constantly flow into their pockets, without any exchange, 
gratis, by might or right, from the pockets of the commodity- 
owners themselves. To sell commodities above their value to 
such a class, is only to crib back again a part of the money 
previously given to it. 8 The towns of Asia Minor thus paid a 
yearly money tribute to ancient Rome. With this money 
Rome purchased from them commodities, and purchased them 
too dear. The provincials cheated the Romans, and thus got 
back from their conquerors, in the course of trade, a portion of 
the tribute. Yet, for all that, the conquered were the really 
cheated. Their goods were still paid for with their own money. 
That is not the way to get rich or to create surplus- value. 

Let us therefore keep within the bounds of exchange where 

1 "The idea of profits being paid by the consumers, is, assuredly, very absurd. Who 
are the consumers ? " (G. Ramsay : An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth. " Edin 
burgh, 1836, p. 183.) 

2 " When a man is in want of a demand, does Mr. Malthus recommend him to pay 
some other person to take off his goods?" is a question put by an angry disciple of 
Bicavdo to Malthus, who, like his disciple, Parson Chalmers, economically glorifies 
this class of simple buyers or consumers. (See "An Inquiry into those principles re 
specting the Nature of Demand and the necessity of Consumption, lately advocated 
by Mr. Malthus," &c. Lond., 1821, p. 55.) 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 141 

sellers are also buyers, and buyers, sellers. Our difficulty may 
perhaps have arisen from treating the actors as personifications 
instead of as individuals. 

A may be clever enough to get the advantage of B or C 
without their being able to retaliate. A sells wine worth 40 
to B, and obtains from him in exchange corn to the value of 
50. A has converted his 40 into 50, has made more money 
out of less, and has converted his commodities into capital. 
Let us examine this a little more closely. Before the exchange 
we had 40 worth of wine in the hands of A, and 50 worth 
of corn in those of B, a total value of 90. After the exchange 
we have still the same total value of 90. The value in circula 
tion has not increased by one iota, it is only distributed differ 
ently between A and B. What is a loss of value to B is surplus- 
value to A ; what is " minus " to one is " plus " to the other. 
The same change would have taken place, if A, without the 
formality of an exchange, had directly stolen the 10 from B. 
The sum of the values in circulation can clearly not be aug 
mented by any change in their distribution, any more than 
the quantity of the precious metals in a country by a Jew 
selling a Queen Ann s farthing for a guinea. The capitalist 
class, as a whole, in any country, cannot over-reach themselves. 

Turn and twist then as we may, the fact remains unaltered. 
If equivalents are exchanged, no surplus- value results, and if 
non-equivalents are exchanged, still no surplus- value. 9 Circula 
tion, or the exchange of commodities, begets no value. 3 

1 Destutt de Tracy, although, or perhaps-because, he was a member of the Institute, 
held the opposite view. He says, industrial capitalists make profits because "they 
all sell for more than it has cost to produce. And to whom do they sell ? In the 
first instance to one another." (1. c., p. 239.) 

2 " L echange qui se fait de deux valeurs egales n augmente ni ne diminue la masse 
des valeurs subsistantes dans la societe. L Schange de deux valeurs inegales . . . 
ne change rien non plus a la somme des valeurs sociales, bien qu il ajoute a la fortune 
de 1 un ce qu il 6te de la fortune de 1 autre. " ( J. B. Say, 1. c. 1. 1., pp. 344, 345. ) Say, 
not in the least troubled as to the consequences of this statement, borrows it, almost 
word for word, from the Physiocrats. The following example will shew how Monsieur 
Say turned to account the writings of the Physiocrats, in his day quite forgotten, for 
the purpose of expanding the " value " of his own. His most celebrated saying, " On. 
n achete des produits qu avec des produits " (1. c., t. II., p. 438) runs as follows in. 
the original physiocratic work : "Les productions ne se paient qu avec des productions. " 
("Le Trosne,"!. c., p. 899.) 

8 " Exchange confers no value at all upon products." (F. Way land: " The Elements 
of Political Economy." Boston, 1853, p. 168.) 

142 Capitalist Production. 

The reason is now therefore plain why, in analysing the 
standard form of capital, the form under which it determines 
the economical organisation of modern society, we entirely 
left out of consideration its most popular, and, so to say, ante 
diluvian forms, merchants capital and money-lenders capital. 

The circuit M C M , buying in order to sell dearer, is seen 
most clearly in genuine merchants capital But the movement 
takes place entirely within the sphere of circulation. Since, 
however, it is impossible, by circulation alone, to account for 
the conversion of money into capital, for the formation of 
surplus-value, it would appear, that merchants capital is an 
impossibility, so long as equivalents are exchanged; 1 that, there 
fore, it can only have its origin in the twofold advantage 
gained, over both the selling and the buying producers, by the 
merchant who parasitically shoves himself in between them. 
It is in this sense that Franklin says, " war is robbery, 
commerce is generally cheating." 2 If the transformation of 
merchants money into capital is to be explained otherwise 
than by the producers being simply cheated, a long series of 
intermediate steps would be necessary, which, at present, when 
the simple circulation of commodities forms our only assump 
tion, are entirely wanting. 

What we have said with reference to merchants capital, 
applies still more to mone3 T -lenders capital. In merchants 
capital, the two extremes, the money that is thrown upon the 
market, and the augmented money that is withdrawn from the 
market, are at least connected by a purchase and a sale, in 
other words by the movement of the circulation. In money 
lenders capital the form M C M is reduced to the two ex 
tremes without a mean, M M , money exchanged for more 
money, a form that is incompatible with the nature of money, 
and therefore remains inexplicable from the standpoint of the 
circulation of commodities. Hence Aristotle : " since chrema- 

1 Under the rule of invariable equivalents commerce would be impossible. (G. 
Opdyke: "A Treatise on Polit. Economy." New York, 1851, p. 66-69.) " The difference 
between real value and exchange value is based upon this fact, namely, that the 
value of a thing is different from the so-called equivalent given for it in trade, i.e., 
that this equivalent is no equivalent." (F. Engels, 1. c. p. 96.) 

2 Benjamin Franklin : Works, Vol. II. edit. Sparks in. "Positions to be examined 
concerning National Wealth," p. 376. 

Contradictions in the Formula of Capital. 143 

tistic is a double science, one part belonging to commerce, the 
other to economic, the latter being necessary and praiseworthy, 
the former based on circulation and with justice disapproved 
(for it is not based on Nature, but on mutual cheating), there 
fore the usurer is most rightly hated, because money itself is 
the source of his gain, and is not used for the purposes for 
which it was invented. For it originated for the exchange of 
commodities, but interest makes out of money, more money. 
Hence its name (* interest and offspring). For the be 
gotten are like those who beget them. But interest is money 
of money, so that of all modes of making a living, this is the 
most contrary to nature." 1 

In the course of our investigation, we shall find that both 
merchants capital and interest-bearing capital are derivative 
forms, and at the same time it will become clear, why these 
two forms appear in the course of history before the modern 
standard form of capital. 

We have shown that surplus-value cannot be created by 
circulation, and, therefore, that in its formation, something 
must take place in the background, which is not apparent in 
the circulation itself.* But can surplus- value possibly originate 
anywhere else than in circulation, which is the sum total of all 
the mutual relations of commodity-owners, as far as they are 
determined by their commodities ? Apart from circulation, 
the commodity-owner is in relation only with his own com 
modity. So far as regards value, that relation is limited to 
this, that the commodity contains a quantity of his own labour, 
that quantity being measured by a definite social standard. 
This quantity is expressed by the value of the commodity, and 
since the value is reckoned in money of account, this quantity 
is also expressed by the price, which we will suppose to be 10. 
But his labour is not represented both by the value of the 
commodity, and by a surplus over that value, not by a price of 
10 that is also a price of 11, not by a value that is greater than 
itself. The commodity owner can, by his labour, create value, 

Aristotle, 1. c. c. 10. 

2 " Profit, in the usual condition of the market, is not made by exchanging. Had 
It not existed before, neither could it after that transaction." (Ramsay, 1. c., p. 184. 

144 Capitalist Production. 

but not self-expanding value. He can increase the value of his 
commodity, by adding fresh labour, and therefore more value 
to the value in hand, by making, for instance, leather into 
boots. The same material has now more value, because it 
contains a greater quantity of labour. The boots have there 
fore more value than the leather, but the value of the leather 
remains what it was ; it has not expanded itself, has not, 
during the making of the boots, annexed surplus value. It i 
therefore impossible that outside the sphere of circulation, a 
producer of commodities can, without coming into contact with 
other commodity owners, expand value, and consequently con 
vert money or commodities into capital. 

It is therefore impossible for capital to be produced by cir 
culation, and it is equally impossible for it to originate apart 
from circulation. It must have its origin both in circulation 
and yet not in circulation. 

We have, therefore, got a double result. 

The conversion of money into capital has to be explained on 
the basis of the laws that regulate the exchange of commodities, 
in such a way that the starting point is the exchange of 
equivalents. 1 Our friend, Moneybags, who as yet is only an 
embryo capitalist, must buy his commodities at their value, 
must sell them at their value, and yet at the end of the pro 
cess must withdraw more value from circulation than he threw 

1 From the foregoing investigation, the reader will see that this statement only means 
that the formation of capital must he possible even though the price and value of a 
commodity be the same ; for its formation cannot be attributed to any deviation of 
the one from the other. If prices actually differ from values, we must, first of all, 
reduce the former to the latter, in other words, treat the difference a& accidental in 
order that the phenomena may be observed in their purity, and our observations not 
interfered with by disturbing circumstances that have nothing to do with the process 
in question. We know, moreover, that this reduction is no mere scientific process. 
The continual oscillations in prices, their rising and falling, compensate each other, 
%nd reduce themselves to an average price, which is their hidden regulator. It forms 
the guiding star of the merchant or the manufacturer in every undertaking that re 
quires time. He knows that when a long period of time is taken, commodities are 
sold neither over nor under, but at their average price. If therefore he thought about 
the matter at all, he would formulate the problem of the formation of capital as 
follows : How can we account for the origin of capital on the supposition that prices 
are regulated by the average price, i.e., ultimately by the value of the commodities? 
I say " ultimately," because average prices do not directly coincide with the values of 
commodities, as Adam Smith, Eicardo, and others believa 

The Buying and Selling of Labour- Power. 145 

into it at starting. His development into a full-grown capi 
talist must take place, both within the sphere of circulation 
and without it. These are the conditions of the problem. 
Hie Rhodus, hie salta ! 



THE change of value that occurs in the case of money intended 
to be converted into capital, cannot take place in the money 
itself, since in its function of means of purchase and of pay 
ment, it does no more than realise the price of the commodity 
it buys or pays for ; and, as hard cash, it is value petrified, 
never varying.. Just as little can it originate in the second 
act of circulation, the re-sale of the commodity, which does 
no more than transform the article from its bodily form back 
again into its money-form. The change must, therefore, take 
place in the commodity bought by the first act, M C, but not 
in its value, for equivalents are exchanged, and the commodity 
is paid for at its full value. We are, therefore, forced to the 
conclusion that the change originates in the use- value, as such, 
of the commodity, i.e., in its consumption. In order to be able 
to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our 
friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to find, within the 
sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity, whose use- 
value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of 
value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an em 
bodiment of labour, and, consequently, a creation of value. 
The possessor of money does find on the market such a special 
commodity in capacity for labour or labour-power. 

By labour-power or capacity for labour is to be understood 
the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities exist 
ing in a human being, which he exercises whenever he 
produces a use- value of any description. 

1 " In the form of i^oney capital is productive of no profit/ (Ricardo : 

* Princ. of Pol. Econ." p. 26,.) 


146 Capitalist Production. 

But in order that our owner of money may be able to find 
labour-power offered for sale as a commodity, various conditions 
must first be fulfilled. The exchange of commodities of itself 
implies no other relations of dependence than those which 
result from its own nature. On this assumption, labour-power 
can appear upon the market as a commodity, only if, and so 
far as, its possessor, the individual whose labour-power it is, 
offers it for sale, or sells it, as a commodity. In order that he 
may be able to do this, he must have it at his disposal, must 
be the untrammelled owner of his capacity for labour, i.e., of 
his person. 1 He and the owner of money meet in the market, 
and deal with each other as on the basis of equal rights, with 
this difference alone, that one is buyer, the other seller ; both, 
therefore, equal -in the eyes of the law. The continuance of 
this relation demands that the owner of the labour-power 
should sell it only for a definite period, for if he were to sell it 
rump and stump, once for all, he would be selling himself, 
converting himself from a free man into a slave, from an owner 
of a commodity into a commodity. He must constantly look 
upon his labour-power as his own property, his own commodity, 
and this he can only do by placing it at the disposal of the buyer 
temporarily, for a definite period of time. By this means alon 
can he avoid renouncing his rights of ownership over it. a 

1 In encyclopaedias of classical antiquities we find such nonsense as this that in 
the ancient world capital was fully developed, " except that the free labourer and a 
system of credit was wanting." Mommsen also, in his " History of Rome," commits, 
in this respect, one blunder after another. 

2 Hence legislation in various countries fixes a maximum for labour-contracts. 
Wherever free labour is the rule, the laws regulate the mode of terminating this con 
tract. In some States, particularly in Mexico (before the American Civil War, also in 
the territories taken from Mexico, and also, as a matter of fact, in the Danubian 
provinces till the revolution effected by Kusa), slavery is hidden under the form of 
peonage. By means of advances, repayable in labour, which are handed down 
from generation to generation, not only the individual labourer, but his family, 
become, de facto, the property of other persons and their families. Juarez abolished 
peonage. The so-called Emperor Maximilian re-established it by a decree, which, in. 
the House of Representatives at Washington, was aptly denounced as a decree for the 
re-introduction of slavery into Mexico. " I may make over to another the use, 
for a limited time, of my particular bodily and mental aptitudes and capabilities ; 
because, in consequence of this restriction, they are impressed with a character of 
alienation with regard to me as a whole. But by the alienation of all my labour- 
time and the whole of my work, I should be converting the substance itself, in other 
words, my general activity and reality, my person, into the property of anothei 
(Hegel, " Philosophic des Rechts." Berlin, 1840, p. 104 67.) 

The Buying and Selling of Labour- Power. 147 

The second essential condition to the owner of money 
finding labour-power in the market as a commodity is this 
that the labourer instead of being in the position to sell com 
modities in which his labour is incorporated, must be obliged 
to offer for sale as a commodity that very labour-power, which 
exists only in his living self. 

In order that a man may be able to sell commodities other 
than labour-power, he must of course have the means of 
production, as raw material, implements, &c. No boots can 
be made without leather. He requires also the means of 
subsistence. Nobody not even " a musician of the future " 
can live upon future products, or upon use-values in an un 
finished state ; and ever since the first moment of his appearance 
on the world s stage, man always has been, and must still be 
a consumer, both before and while he is producing. In a 
society where all products assume the form of commodities, 
these commodities must be sold after they have been produced ; 
it is only after their sale that they can serve in satisfying the 
requirements of their producer. The time necessary for their 
sale is superadded to that necessary for their production. 

For the conversion of his money into capital, therefore, the 
owner of money must meet in the market with the free 
labourer, free in the double sense, that as a free man he can 
dispose of his labour-power as his own commodity, and that on 
the other hand he has no other commodity for sale, is short 
of everything necessary for the realisation of his labour- 

The question why this free labourer confronts him in the 
market, has no interest for the owner of money, who regards 
the labour market as a branch of the general market for com 
modities. And for the present it interests us just as little. 
We cling to the fact theoretically, as he does practically. One 
thing, however, is clear nature does not produce on the one 
side owners of money or commodities, and on the other men 
possessing nothing but their own labour-power. This relation 
has no natural basis, neither . is its social basis one that is 
common to all historical periods. It is clearly the result of a 
past historical development, the product of many economical 

148 Capitalist Production. 

revolutions, of the extinction of a whole series of older forms- 
of social production. 

So, too, the economical categories, already discussed by us, 
bear the stamp of history. Definite historical conditions are 
necessary that a product may become a commodity. It must 
not be produced as the immediate means of subsistence of the 
producer himself. Had we gone further, and inquired under 
what circumstances all, or even the majority of products take 
the form of commodities, we should have found that this can 
only happen with production of a very specific kind, capitalist 
production. Such an inquiry, however, would have been 
foreign to the analysis of commodities. Production and 
circulation of commodities can take place, although the great 
mass of the objects produced are intended for the immediate 
requirements of their producers, are not turned into commodi 
ties, and consequently social production is not yet by a long 
way dominated in its length and breadth by exchange-value. 
The appearance of products as commodities presupposes such a 
development of the social division of labour, that the separation 
of use-value from exchange- value, a separation which first 
begins with barter, must already have been completed. But 
such a degree of development is common to many forms of 
society, which in other respects present the most varying 
historical features. On the other hand, if we consider money, 
its existence implies a definite stage in the exchange of 
commodities. The particular functions of money which it 
performs, either as the mere equivalent of commodities, or as 
means of circulation, or means of payment, as hoard or as 
universal money, point, according to the extent and relative 
preponderance of the one function or the other, to very 
different stages in the process of social production. Yet we 
know by experience that a circulation of commodities relatively 
primitive, suffices for the production of all these forms. Other 
wise with capital. The historical conditions of its existence 
are by no means given with the mere circulation of money and 
commodities. It can spring into life, only when the owner of 
the means of production and subsistence meets in the market 
with the free labourer selling his labour-power. And this one 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 149 

historical condition comprises a world s history. Capital, 
therefore, announces from its first appearance a new epoch in 
the process of social production. 1 

We must now examine more closely this peculiar commodity, 
labour-power. Like all others it has a value. 2 How is that 
value determined ? 

The value of labour-power is determined, as in the case of 
every other commodity, by the labour- time necessary for the 
production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this 
special article. So far as it has value, it represents no more 
than a definite quantity of the average labour of society 
incorporated in it. Labour-power exists only as a capacity, or 
power of the living individual Its production consequently 
presupposes his existence. Given the individual, the produc 
tion of labour-power consists in his reproduction of himself or 
his maintenance. For his maintenance he requires a given 
quantity of the means of subsistence. Therefore the labour- 
time requisite for the production of labour-power reduces itself 
to that necessary for the production of those means of 
subsistence ; in other words, the value of labour-power is the 
value of the means of subsistence necessary for the mainten 
ance of the labourer. Labour-power, however, becomes a 
reality only by its exercise ; it sets itself in action only by 
working. But thereby a definite quantity of human muscle, 
nerve, brain, &c., is wasted, and these require to be restored. 
This increased expenditure demands a larger income. 8 If the 
owner of labour-power works to-day, to-morrow he must again 
be able to repeat the same process in the same conditions as 
regards health and strength. His means of subsistence must 
therefore be sufficient to maintain him in his normal state as 

1 The capitalist epoch is therefore characterised by this, that labour-power takes 
in the eyes of the labourer himself the form of a commodity which is his property ; 
his labour consequently becomes wage labour. On the other hand, it is only from 
this moment that the produce of labour universally becomes a commodity. 

2 " The value or worth of a man, is as of all other things his price that is to say, 
o much as would be given for the use of his power." (Th. Hobbes : " Leviathan " in 
Works, Ed. Molesworth. Lond. 1839-44, v. iii., p. 76.) 

3 Hence the floman Villicus, as overlooker of the agricultural slaves, received 
"more meagre fare than working slaves, because his work was lighter." (Th, 
Mommsen Rom. Geschichte, 1856, p. 810.) 

150 Capitalist Production. 

a labouring individual. His natural wants, such as food, 
clothing, fuel, and housing, vary according to the climatic and 
other physical conditions of his country. On the other hand, 
the number and extent of his so-called necessary wants, as also 
the modes of satisfying them, are themselves the product of 
historical development, and depend therefore to a great extent 
on the degree of civilisation of a country, more particularly on 
the conditions under which, and consequently on the habits and 
degree of comfort in which, the class of free labourers has been 
formed. * In contradistinction therefore to the case of other 
commodities, there enters into the determination of the value 
of labour-power a historical and moral element. Nevertheless, 
in a given country, at a given period, the average quantity of 
the means of subsistence necessary for the labourer i 
practically known. 

The owner of labour-power is mortal. If then his appear 
ance in the market is to be continuous, and the continuous con 
version of money into capital assumes this, the seller of labour- 
power must perpetuate himself, " in the way that every living 
individual perpetuates himself, by procreation." 3 The labour- 
power withdrawn from the market by wear and tear and 
death, must be continually replaced by, at the very least, an 
equal amount of fresh labour-power. Hence the sum of the 
means of subsistence necessary for the production of labour- 
power must include the means necessary for the labourer s 
substitutes, i.e., his children, in order that this race of peculiar 
commodity-owners may perpetuate its appearance in the 
market. 8 

In order to modify the human organism, so that it may ac 
quire skill and handiness in a given branch of industry, and 
become labour-power of a special kind, a special education or 
training is requisite, and this, on its part, costs an equivalent 

1 Compare "W. H. Thornton : " Overpopulation and its Remedy," Lond., 1846. 

a Petty. 

* Its (labour s) natural price. . . . consists in such a quantity of necessaries 
and comforts of life, as, from the nature of the climate, and the habits of the coun 
try, are necessary to support the labourer, and to enable him to rear such a family 
as may preserve, in the market, an undiminished supply of labour." (K. Torrens : 
"An Essay on the external Corn Trade." Lond., 1815, p. 62.) The word labour ia 
here wrongly used for labour-power. 

The Buying and Selling of Labour- Power. 151 

in commodities of a greater or less amount. This amount 
varies according to the more or less complicated character of 
the labour-power. The expenses of this education (excessively 
small in the case of ordinary labour-power), enter pro tanto 
into the total value spent in its production. 

The value of labour-power resolves itself into the value of a 
definite quantity of the means of subsistence. It therefore 
varies with the value of these means or with the quantity of 
labour requisite for their production. 

Some of the means of subsistence, such as food and fuel, are 
consumed daily, and a fresh supply must be provided 
daily. Others such as clothes and furniture last for 
longer periods and require to be replaced only at longer in 
tervals. One article must be bought or paid for daily, another 
weekly, another quarterly, and so on. But in whatever way 
the sum total of these outlays may be spread over the year, 
they must be covered by the average income, taking one day 
with another. If the total of the commodities required daily 
for the production of labour-power=A, and those required 
weekly^B, and those required quarterly =C, and so on, the 
daily average of these commodities = ^- 4 - c +*- s u p pose 
that in this mass of commodities requisite for the average day 
there are embodied 6 hours of social labour, then there is incor 
porated daily in labour-power half a day s average social labour, 
in other words, half a day s labour is requisite for the daily 
production of labour-power. This quantity of labour forms 
the value of a day s labour-power or the value of the labour- 
power daily reproduced. If half a day s average social labour is 
incorporated in three shillings, then three shillings is the price 
corresponding to the value of a day s labour-power. If its 
owner therefore offers it for sale at three shillings a day, its 
selling price is equal to its value, and according to our sup 
position, our friend Moneybags, who is intent upon converting 
his three shillings into capital, pays this value. 

The minimum limit of the value of labour-power is de 
termined by the value of the commodities, without the daily 
supply of which the labourer cannot renew his vital energy, 
consequently by the value of those means of subsistence that 


152 Capitalist Production. 

are physically indispensable. If the price of labour-power fall 
to this minimum, it falls below its value, since under such cir 
cumstances it can be maintained and developed only in a 
crippled state. But the value of every commodity is deter 
mined by the labour-time requisite to turn it out so as to be of 
normal quality. 

It is a very cheap sort of sentimentality which declares this 
method of determining the value of labour-power, a method 
prescribed by the very nature of the case, to be a brutal 
method, and which wails with Rossi that, "To comprehend 
capacity for labour (puissance de travail) at the same time 
that we make abstraction from the means of subsistence of the 
labourers during the process of production, is to comprehend a 
phantom (etre de raison). When we speak of labour, or 
capacity for labour, we speak at the same time of the labourer 
and his means of subsistence, of labourer and wages." 1 When 
we speak of capacity for labour, we do not speak of labour, any 
more than when we speak of capacity for digestion, we speak 
of digestion. The latter process requires something more than 
a good stomach. When we speak of capacity for labour, we do 
not abstract from the necessary means of subsistence. On the 
contrary, their value is expressed in its value. If his capacity 
for labour remains unsold, the labourer derives no benefit from 
it, but rather he will feel it to be a cruel nature-imposed 
necessity that this capacity has cost for its production a de 
finite amount of the means of subsistence and that it \vill con 
tinue to do so for its reproduction. He will then agree with 
Sismondi : " that capacity for labour. ... is nothing unless it 
is sold." 2 

One consequence of the peculiar nature of labour-power as a 
commodity is, that its use-value does not, on the conclusion of 
the contract between the buyer and seller, immediately pass 
into the hands of the former. Its value, like that of every 
other commodity, is already fixed before it goes into circula 
tion, since a definite quantity of social labour has been spent 
upon it ; but its use- value consists in the subsequent exercise of 

i Kossi. " Cours d Econ. Polit : " Bruxelles, 1842, p. 370. 
a Sismondi : " Nouv. Princ. etc," 1. 1. p. 112. 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 153 

its force. The alienation of labour-power and its actual appro 
priation by the buyer, its employment as a use-value, are 
separated by an interval of time. But in those cases in which 
the formal alienation by sale of the use-value of a commodity, is 
not simultaneous with its actual delivery to the buyer, the 
money of the latter usually functions as means of payment. 1 
In every country in which the capitalist mode of production 
reigns, it is the custom not to pay for labour-power before it 
has been exercised for the period fixed by the contract, as for 
example, the end of each week. In all cases, therefore, the use- 
value of the labour-power is advanced to the capitalist : the 
labourer allows the buyer to consume it before he receives pay 
ment of the price ; he everywhere gives credit to the 
capitalist. That this credit is no mere fiction, is shown not 
only by the occasional loss of wages on the bankruptcy of the 
capitalist, a but also by a series of more enduring conse 
quences. 3 Nevertheless, whether money serves as a means of 

1 " All labour is paid after it has ceased." (" An Inquiry into those Principles re 
specting the Nature of Demand," &c., p. 104.) " Le credit commercial a du commencer 
au moment ou 1 ouvrier, premier artisan de la production, a pu, au moyen de ses 
economies, attendre le salaire de son travail jusqu, a la fin de la semaine, de la 
^uinzaine, du mois, du trimestre, &c. (Ch. Ganilh : " Des Systemes de 1 Ecou. Polit." 
2eme. edit. Paris, 1821, t. I. p. 150.) 

2 " L ouvrier prete son Industrie," but adds Storch slyly : he " risks nothing " ex 
cept " de perdre son salaire .... 1 ouvrier ne transmet rien de materiel." 
(Storch: " Cours d Econ. Polit. Econ." Pe"tersbourg, 1815, t. II., p., 37.) 

3 One example. In London there are two sorts of bakers, the " full priced," who 
sell bread at its full value, and the " undersellers, " who sell it under its value. The 
latter class comprises more than three-fourths of the total number of bakers, (p. 
xxxii in the Report of H. S. Tremenheere, commissioner to examine into the griev 
ances complained of by the journeymen bakers," &c., Lond. 1862.) The undersellers, 
almost without exception, sell bread adulterated with alum, soap, pearl ashes, chalk, 
Derbyshire stone-dust, and such like agreeable nourishing and wholesome ingredients. 
(See the above cited blue book, as also the report of " the committee of 1855 on the 
adulteration of bread, " and Dr Hassall s "Adulterations detected," 2nd Ed. Lond. 
1862.) Sir John Gordon stated before the committee of 1855, that "in consequence 
of these adulterations, the poor man, who lives on two pounds of bread a day, does 
not now get one fourth part of nourishing matter, let alone the deleterious effects on 
his health." Tremenheere states (1. c. p. xlviii), as the reason, why a very large part 
of the working class, although well aware of this adulteration, nevertheless accept 
the alum, stone-dust, &c., as part of their purchase : that it is for them " a matter of 
necessity to take from their baker or from the chandler s shop, such bread as they 
choose to supply. " As they are not paid their wages before the end of the week, 
they in their turn are unable " to pay for the bread consumed by their families, dur- 

-ing the week, before the end of the week," and Tremenheere adds on the evidence of 
witnesses, "it is notorious that bread composed of those mixtures, is made expressly 

154 Capitalist Production. 

purchase or as a means of payment, this makes no alteration in 
the nature of the exchange of commodities. The price of the 
labour-power is fixed by the contract, although it is not 
realised till later, like the rent of a house. The labour-power is- 
sold, although it is only paid for at a later period. It will, 
therefore, be useful, for a clear comprehension of the relation 
of the parties, to assume provisionally, that the possessor of 
labour-power, on the occasion of each sale, immediately re 
ceives the price stipulated to be paid for it. 

We now know how the value paid by the purchaser to th& 
possessor of this peculiar commodity, labour-power, is de 
termined. The use-value which the former gets in exchange, 
manifests itself only in the actual usufruct, in the consump 
tion of the labour-power. The money owner buys every 
thing necessary for this purpose, such as raw material, in the 
market, and pays for it at its full value. The consumption of 
labour-power is at one and the same time the production of 
commodities and of surplus value. The consumption of labour- 
power is completed, as in the case of every other commodity, 
outside the limits of the market or of the sphere of circulation. 
Accompanied by Mr. Moneybags and by the possessor of labour- 
power, we therefore take leave for a time of this noisy sphere, 
where everything takes place on the surface and in view of all 
men, and follow them both into the hidden abode of production, 

for sale in this manner." In many English and still more Scotch agricultural dis 
tricts, wages are paid fortnightly and even monthly ; with such long intervals between* 
the payments, the agricultural labourer is obliged to buy on credit. . . . He 
must pay higher prices, and is in fact tied to the shop which gives him credit. Thus 
at Horningham in Wilts, for example, where the wages are monthly, the same flour 
that he could buy elsewhere at Is lOd per stone, costs him 2s 4d per stone. (" Sixth 
Eeport" on "Public Health" by "The Medical Officer of the Privy Council. 
&c., 1864. "p. 264.) " The block printers of Paisley and Kilmarnock enforced, by 
a strike, fortnightly, instead of monthly payment of wages." ("Reports of the In 
spectors of Factories for 31st Oct., 1853," p. 34). As a further pretty result of the 
credit given by the workmen to the capitalist, we may refer to the method current in 
many English coal mines, where the labourer is not paid till the end of the month, 
and in the meantime, receives sums on account from the capitalist, often in goods for 
which the miner is obliged to pay more than the market price (Truck-system.) "It is 
a common practice with the coal masters to pay once a month, and advance cash to 
their workmen at the end of each intermediate week. The cash is given in the shop" 
(i.e., the Tommy shop which belongs to the master) ; "the men take it on one side 
and lay it out on the other." (" Children s Employment Commission, III. Report," 
Lond. 1864, p. 38, n. 192.) 

The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power. 1 5 5 

on whose threshold there stares us in the face " No admittance 
except on business." Here we shall see, not only how capital 
produces, but how capital is produced. We shall at last force 
the secret of profit making, 

This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries 
the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very 
Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, 

o * 

Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer 
and seller of a commodity, say of labour-power, are constrained 
only by their own free will. They contract as free agents, and 
the agreement they come to, is but the form in which they give 
legal expression to their common will. Equality, because each 
enters into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of 
commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. 
Property, because each disposes only of what is his own. And 
Bentharn, because each looks only to himself. The only force 
that brings them together and puts them in relation with each 
other, is the selfishness, the gain and the private interests of 
each. Each looks to himself only, and no one troubles himself 
about the rest, and just because they do so, do they all, in 
accordance with the pre-established harmony of things, or 
under the auspices of an all-shrewd providence, work together 
to their mutual advantage, for the common weal and in the 
interest of all. 

On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange 
of commodities, which furnishes the " Free-trader Vulgaris " 
with his views and ideas, and with the standard by which he 
judges a society based on capital and wages, we think we can 
perceive a change in the physiognomy of our dramatis personse. 
He, who before was the money owner, now strides in front as 
capitalist ; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. 
The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; 
the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his 
own hide to market and has nothing to expect but a hiding. 






THE capitalist buys labour-power in order to use it; and labour- 
power in use is labour itself. The purchaser of labour-power con 
sumes it by setting the seller of it to work. By working, the 
latter becomes actually, what before he only was potentially, 
labour-power in action, a labourer. In order that his labour may 
reappear in a commodity, he must, before all things, expend it 
on something useful, on something capable of satisfying a 
want of some sort. Hence, what the capitalist sets the lab 
ourer to produce, is a particular use-value, a specified article. 
The fact that the production o use- values, or goods, is carried 
on under the control of a capitalist and on his behalf, does not 
alter the general character of that production. We shall, 
therefore, in the first place, have to consider the labour-process 
independently of the particular form it assumes under given 
social conditions. 

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man 
and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord 
starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between 
himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of 
own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and 

The Labour Process. 157 

hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate 
Nature s productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By 
thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the 
same time changes his own nature. He develops his slumber 
ing powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. 
We are not now dealing with those primitive instinctive forms 
of labour that remind us of the mere animal. An immeasur 
able interval of time separates the state of things in which a 
man brings his labour-power to market for sale as a commodity, 
from that state in which human labour was still in its first in 
stinctive stage. We presuppose labour in a form that stamps 
it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that 
resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an 
architect in the construction of her cells. But what distin 
guishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that 
the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects 
it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a re 
sult that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at 
its commencement. He not only effects a change of form in 
the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose 
of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to 
which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination 
is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily 
organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, 
the workman s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose. 
This means close attention. The less he is attracted by the 
nature of the work, and the mode in which it is carried on, 
and the less, therefore, he enjoys it as something which gives 
play to his bodily and mental powers, the more close his atten 
tion is forced to be. 

The elementary factors of the labour-process are l,the personal 
activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that work, 
and 3, its instruments. 

The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in 
the virgin state in which it supplies l man with necessaries or 

1 " The earth s spontaneous productions being in small quantity, and quite indepen 
dent of man, appear, as it were, to be fxirnished by Nature, in the same way as a small 
sum is given to a young man, in order to put him in a way of industry, and of mak 
ing his fortune." (James Steuart : "Principles of Polit. Econ." edit. Dublin, 1770, 
f. I. p. 116). 

158 Capitalist Production. 

the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently 
of him, and is the universal subject of human labour. All 
those things which labour merely separates from immediate 
connection with their environment, are subjects of labour 
spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish which we 
catch and take from their element, water, timber which we 
fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their 
veins. If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so to 
say, been filtered through previous labour, we call it raw 
material ; such is ore already extracted and ready for wash 
ing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but not every 
subject of labour is raw material ; it can only become so, after 
it has undergone some alteration by means of labour. 

An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, 
which the labourer interposes between himself and the subject 
of his labour, and which serves as the conductor of his activity. 
He makes use of the mechanical, physical, and chemical pro 
perties of some substances in order to make other substances 
subservient to his aims. 1 Leaving out of consideration such 
ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which 
a man s own limbs serve as the instruments of his labour, the 
first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the 
subject of labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes one 
of the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his own 
bodily organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible. 
As the earth is his original larder, so too it is his original tool 
house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, 
grinding, pressing, cutting, &c. The earth itself is an instru 
ment of labour, but when used as such in agriculture implies a 
whole series of other instruments and a comparatively high 
development of labour. 8 No sooner does labour undergo the 

1 "Reason is just as cunning as she is powerful. Her cunning consists principally in 
her mediating activity, which, by causing objects to act and re-act on each other in 
accordance with their own nature, in this way, without any direct interference in the 
process, carries out reason s intentions." (Hegel : " Encyklopadie, Erster Theil. Dio 
Logik." Berlin, 1840, p. 382.) 

2 In his otherwise miserable work, (" Theorie de 1 Econ. Polit." Paris, 1819), 
Ganilh enumerates in a striking manner in opposition to the " Physiocrats " the long 
series of previous processes necessary before agriculture properly so called can com 

The Labour Process. 159 

least development, than it requires specially prepared instru 
ments. Thus in the oldest caves we find stone implements and 
weapons. In the earliest period of human history domesticated 
animals, i.e., animals which have been bred for the purpose, and 
have undergone modifications by means of labour, play the 
chief part as instruments of labour along with specially pre 
pared stones, wood, bones, and shells. 1 The use and fabrication 
of instruments of labour, although existing in the germ among 
certain species of animals, is specifically characteristic of the 
human labour-process, and Franklin therefore defines man as a 
tool-making animal. Relics of by-gone instruments of labour 
possess the same importance for the investigation of extinct 
economical forms of society, as do fossil bones for the determina 
tion of extinct species of animals, It is not the articles made, 
but how they are made, and by what instruments, that enables 
us to distinguish different economical epochs.* Instruments of 
labour not only supply a standard of the degree of develop 
ment to which human labour has attained, but they are also 
indicators of the social conditions under which that labour is 
earned on. Among the instruments of labour, those of a 
mechanical nature, which, taken as a whole, we may call the 
bone and muscles of production, offer much more decided 
characteristics of a given epoch of production, than those which, 
like pipes, tubs, baskets, jars, &c., serve only to hold the 
materials for labour, which latter class, we may in a general 
way, call the vascular system of production. The latter first 
begins to play an important part in the chemical industries. 

In a wider sense we may include among the instruments of 
labour, in addition to those things that are used for directly 
transferring labour to its subject, and which therefore, in one 

1 Turgot in his " Reflexions sur !& Formation et la Distribution des Richesses " 
(1766) brings well into prominence the importance of domesticated animals to early 

2 The least important commodities of all for the technological comparison of 
different epochs of production are articles of luxury, in the strict meaning of the term. 
However little our written histories up to this time notice the development of material 
production, which is the basis of all social life, and therefore of all real history, yet 
prehistoric times have been classified in accordance with the results, not of so called 
historical, but of materialistic investigations. These periods have been divided, to 
-correspond with the materials from which their implements and weapons were made, 
viz., into the stone, the bronze, and the iron ages. 

160 Capitalist Production. 

way or another, serve as conductors of activity, all such objects 
as are necessary for canying on the labour-process. These do 
not enter directly into the process, but without them it is either 
impossible for it to take place at all, or possible only to a 
partial extent. Once more we find the earth to be a universal 
instrument of this sort, for it furnishes a locus standi to the 
labourer and a field of employment for his activity. Among 
instruments that are the result of previous labour and also 
belong to this class, we find workshops, canals, roads, and so- 

In the labour-process, therefore, man s activity, with the help 
of the instruments of labour, effects an alteration, designed from 
the commencement, in the material worked upon. The process 
disappears in the product ; the latter is a use-value, Nature s 
material adapted by a change of form to the wants of man. 
Labour has incorporated itself with its subject : the former is 
materialised, the latter transformed. That which in the labourer 
appeared as movement, now appears in the product as a fixed 
quality without motion. The blacksmith forges and the pro 
duct is a forging. 

If we examine the whole process from the point of view of 
its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and 
the subject of labour, are means of production, 1 and that the 
labour itself is productive labour.* 

Though a use-value, in the form of a product, issues from 
the labour-process, yet other use-values, products of previous 
labour, enter into it as means of production. The same use- 
yalue is both the product of a previous process, and a means of 
production in a later process. Products are therefore not only 
results, but also essential conditions of labour. 

With the exception of the extractive industries, in which 
the material for labour is provided immediately by nature, 
such as mining, hunting, fishing, and agriculture (so far as the 

1 It appears paradoxical to assert, that uncaught fish, for instance, are a means of 
production in the fishing industry. But hitherto no one has discovered the art of 
catching fish in waters that contain none. 

a This method of determining from the standpoint of the labour-process alone, what 
is productive labour, is by no means directly applicable to the case of the capitalist 
far less of production. 

The Labour Process. 16 1 

latter is confined to breaking up virgin soil), al] branches of 
industry manipulate raw material, objects already filtered 
through labour, already products of labour. Such is seed in 
igriculture. Animals and plants, which we are accustomed to 
consider as products of nature, are in their present form, not 
viily products of, say last year s labour, but the result of a 
gradual transformation, continued through many generations, 
unaer man s superintendence, and by means of his labour. 
But in the great majority of cases, instruments of labour show 
even to the most superficial observer, traces of the labour of 
past ages. 

Raw material may either form the principal substance of a 
product, or it may ente.. into its formation only as an acces 
sory. An accessory may be consumed by the instruments of 
labour, as coal under a boiler, oil by a wheel, hay by draft- 
horses, or it may be mixed with the raw material in order to 
produce some modification thereof, as chlorine into unbleached 
linen, coal with iron, dye-stuff with wool, or again, it may help 
to carry on the work itself, as in the case of the materials used 
for heating and lighting workshops. The distinction between 
principal substance and accessory vanishes in the true chemical 
industries, because there none of the raw material reappears, in 
its original composition, in the substance of the product. 1 

Every object possesses various properties, and is thus capable 
of being applied to different uses. One and the same product 
may therefore serve as raw material in very different processes. 
Corn, for example, is a raw material for millers, starch-manu 
facturers, distillers, and cattle-breeders. It also enters as raw 
material into its own production in the shape of seed : coal, too, 
is at the same time the product of, and a means of production 
in, coal-mining. 

Again, a particular product may be used in one and the same 
process, both as an instrument of labour and as raw material. 
Take, for instance, the fattening of cattle, where the animal is 
the raw material, and at the same time an instrument for the 
production of manure. 

1 Storch calls true raw maserials * matieres," and accessory material " materiaux : " 
Cherbulicz describee accessories a* * matieres instrumen tales," 


1 62 Capitalist Production. 

A product, though ready for immediate consumption, may 
yet serve as raw material for a further product, as grapes when 
they become the raw material for wine. On the other hand, 
labour may give us its product in such a form, that we can use 
it only as raw material, as is the case with cotton, thread, and 
yarn. Such a raw material, though itself a product, may have 
to go through a whole series of different processes : in each of 
these in turn, it serves, with constantly varying form, as raw 
material, until the last process of the series leaves it a perfect 
product, ready for individual consumption, or for use as an in 
strument of labour. 

Hence we see, that whether a use-value is to be regarded as 
raw material, as instrument of labour, or as product, this is deter 
mined entirely by its function in the labour process, by the 
position it there occupies ; as this varies, so does its character. 

Whenever therefore a product enters as a means of produc 
tion into a new labour-process, it thereby loses its character of 
product, and becomes a mere factor in the process. A spinner 
treats spindles only as implements for spinning, and flax only 
as the material that he spins. Of course it is impossible to spin 
without material and spindles ; and therefore the [existence of 
these things as products, at the commencement of the spinning 
operation, must be presumed : but in the process itself, the fact 
that they are products of previous labour, is a matter of utter 
indifference ; just as in the digestive process, it is of no impor 
tance whatever, that bread is the produce of the previous 
labour of the farmer, the miller, and the baker. On the con 
trary, it is generally by their imperfections as products, that 
the means of production in any process assert themselves in 
their character of products. A blunt knife or weak thread 
forcibly remind us of Mr. A., the cutler, or Mr. B., the spinner. 
In the finished product the labour by means of which it has 
acquired its useful qualities is not palpable, has apparently 

A machine which does not serve the purposes of labour, is 
useless. In addition, it falls a prey to the destructive influence 
of natural forces. Iron rusts and wood rots. Yarn with which 
we neither weave nor knit, is cotton wasted. Living labour 

The Labour Process. 163 

=must seize upon these things and rouse them from their death- 
sleep, change them from mere possible use-values into real 
and effective ones. Bathed in the fire of labour, appropriated 
&s part and parcel of labour s organism, and, as it were, made 
alive for the performance of their functions in the process, they 
are in truth consumed, but consumed with a purpose, as 
elementary constituents of new use-values, of new products, 
ever ready as means of subsistence for individual consumption, 
or as means of production for some new labour-process. 

If then, on the one hand, finished products are not only 
results, but also necessary conditions, of the labour-process, on 
the other hand, their assumption into that process, their contact 
with living labour, is the sole means by which they can be 
made to retain their character of use-values, and be utilised. 

Labour uses up its material factors, its subject and its 
instruments, consumes them, and is therefore a process of con 
sumption. Such productive consumption is distinguished 
from individual consumption by this, that the latter uses up 
products, as means of subsistence for the living individual; the 
former, as means whereby alone, labour, the labour-power of 
the living individual, is enabled to act. The product, therefore, 
of individual consumption, is the consumer himself ; the result 
of productive consumption, is a product distinct from the con 

In so far then, as its instruments and subjects are themselves 
products, labour consumes products in order to create products, 
or in other words, consumes one set of products by turning 
them into means of production for another set. But, just as in 
the beginning, the only participators in the labour-process 
were man and the earth, which latter exists independently of 
man, so even now we still employ in the process many means 
of production, provided directly by nature, that do not represent 
any combination of natural substances with human labour. 

The labour process, resolved as above into its simple 
elementary factors, is human action with a view to the pro 
duction of use- values, appropriation of natural substances to 
human requirements ; it is the necessary condition for effecting 
exchange of matter between man and Nature ; it is the ever- 

164 Capitalist Production. 

lasting nature-imposed condition of human existence, and 
therefore is independent of every social phase of that existence, 
or rather, is common to every such phase. It was, therefore^ 
not necessary to represent our labourer in connexion with 
other labourers ; man and his labour on one side, Nature and 
its materials on the other, sufficed. As the taste of the porridge 
does not tell you who grew the oats, no more does this simple 
process tell you of itself what are the social conditions under 
which it is taking place, whether under the slave-owner s 
brutal lash, or the anxious eye of the capitalist, whether 
Cincinnatus carries it on in tilling his modest farm or a savage 
in killing wild animals with stones. 1 

Let us now return to our would-be capitalist. We left him 
just after he had purchased, in the open market, all the necessary 
factors of the labour-process; its objective factors, the means of 
production, as well as its subjective factor, labour-power. 
With the keen eye of an expert, he has selected the means of 
production and the kind of labour-power best adapted to his 
particular trade, be it spinning, bootmaking, or any other kind. 
He then proceeds to consume the commodity, the labour-power 
that he has just bought, by causing the labourer, the impersona 
tion of that labour-power, to consume the means of production 
by his labour. The general character of the labour-process is 
evidently not changed by the fact, that the labourer works for 
the capitalist instead of for himself ; moreover, the particular 
methods and operations employed in bootmaking or spinning 
are not immediately changed by the intervention of the 
capitalist. He must begin by taking the labour-power as he- 
finds it in the market, and consequently be satisfied with 
labour of such a kind as would be found in the period 
immediately preceding the rise of capitalists. Changes in the 
methods of production by the subordination of labour to 
capital, can take place only at a later period, and therefore 
will have to be treated of in a later chapter. 

1 By a wonderful feat of logical acumen, Colonel Torrens has discovered, in this 
stone of the savage the origin of capital. " In the first stone which he [the savagej 
flings at the wild animal he pursues, in the first stick that he seizes to strike down 
the fruit which hangs above his reach, we see the appropriation of one article for the 
purpose of aiding in the acquisition of another, and thus discover the origin of 
capital. (II. Torrens : " An Essay on the Production of Wealth," &c., pp. 70-71.) 

The Labour Process. 165 

The labour-process, turned into the process by which the 
capitalist consumes labour-power, exhibits two characteristic 
phenomena. First, the labourer works under the control of 
the capitalist to whom his labour belongs ; the capitalist taking 
good care that the work is done in a proper manner, and that 
the means of production are used with intelligence, so that 
there is no unnecessary waste of raw material, and no wear and 
tear of the implements beyond what is necessarily caused by 
the work. 

Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist and 
nob that of the labourer, its immediate producer. Suppose 
that a capitalist pays for a day s labour-power at its value ; 
then the right to use that power for a day belongs to him, just 
as much as the right to use any other commodity, such as a 
horse that he Las hired for the day. To the purchaser of a 
commodity belongs its use, and the seller of labour-power, by 
giving his labour, does no more, in reality, than part with the 
use-value that he has sold. From the instant he steps into 
the workshop, the use-value of his labour-power, and therefore 
also its use, which is labour, belongs to the capitalist. By the 
purchase of labour-power, the capitalist incorporates labour, as 
a living ferment, with the lifeless constituents of the product. 
From his point of view, the labour-process is nothing more 
than the consumption of the commodity purchased, i.e.) of 
labour-power; bub this consumption cannot be effected except 
by supplying the labour-power with the means of production. 
The labour-process is a process between things that the capital 
ist has purchased, things that have become his property. The 
product of this process belongs, therefore, to him, just as much 
as does the wine which is the product of a process of fermenta 
tion completed in his cellar. 1 

1 "Products are appropriated before they are converted into capital ; this conver 
sion does not secure them from such appropriation. " (Cherbuliez : " Kiche ou Pauvre," 
edit. Paris, 1841, pp. 53, 54.) "The Proletarian, by selling his labour for a definite 
quantity of the necessaries of life, renounces all claim to a share in the product. 
The mode of appropriation of the products remains the same as before ; it is in no 
way altered by the bargain we have mentioned. The product belongs exclusively to 
the capitalist, who supplied the raw material and the necessaries of life ; and tnls is 
& rigorous consequence of the law of appropriation a law whose fundamental prin 
ciple was the very opposite, namely, that every labourer has an exclusive right to 

1 66 Capitalist Production. 


The product appropriated by the capitalist is a use-value, as 
yarn, for example, or boots. But, although boots are, in one 
sense, the basis of all social progress, and our capitalist is a 
decided " progressist," yet he does not manufacture boots for 
their own sake. Use-value is, by no means, the thing " qu on 
aime pour lui-meme " in the production of commodities. Use- 
values are only produced by capitalists, because, and in so far 
as, they are the material substratum, the depositaries of 
exchange-value. Our capitalist has two objects in view : in 
the first place, he wants to produce a use-value that has a 
value in exchange, that is to say, an article destined to be sold, 
a commodity ; and secondly, he desires to produce a commodity 
whose value shall be greater than the sum of the values of the- 
commodities used in its production, that is, of the means of 
production and the labour-power, that he purchased with his. 
good money in the open market. His aim is to produce not 
only a use-value, but a commodity also; not only use- value, 
but value ; not only value, but at the same time surplus- 

It must be borne in mind, that we are now dealing with the 
production of commodities, and that, up to this point, we have 
only considered one aspect of the process. Just as commodities 
are, at the same time, use- values and values, so the process of 
producing them must be a labour-process, and at the same 
time, a process of creating value. 1 

Let us now examine production as a creation of value. 

We know that the value of each commodity is determined 
by the quantity of labour expended on and materialised in it, 

the ownership of what he produces." (1. c. p. 58.) "When the labourers receive 
wages for their labour .... the capitalist is then the owner not of the capital only" 
(he means the means of production) "but of the labour also. If what is paid as wages 
is included, as it commonly is, in the term capital, it is absurd to talk of labour 
separately from capital. The word capital as thus employed includes labour and 
capital both." (James Mill : " Elements of Pol. Econ.," &c., Ed. 1821, pp. 70, 71.) 

1 As has been stated in a previous note, the English language has two different, 
expressions for these two different aspects of labour ; in the Simple Labour-process, 
the process of producing Use- Values, it is Work ; in the process of creation of Value,. 
it is Labour, taking the term in its strictly economical sense. Ed. 

The Labour Process. 167 

by the working-time necessary, under given social conditions, 
for its production. This rule also holds good in the case of 
the product that accrued to our capitalist, as the result of the 
labour-process carried on for him. Assuming this product to 
be 10 Ibs. of yarn, our first step is to calculate the quantity of 
labour realised in it. 

For spinning the yarn, raw material is required ; suppose in 
this case 10 Ibs. of cotton. We have no need at present to 
investigate the value of this cotton, for our capitalist has, we 
will assume, bought it at its full value, say of ten shillings. 
In this price the labour required for the production of the 
cotton is already expressed in terms of the average labour of 
society. We will further assume that the wear and tear of the 
spindle, which, for our present purpose, may represent all other 
instruments of labour employed, amounts to the value of 2s. 
If, then, twenty-four hours labour, or two working days, are 
required to produce the quantity of gold represented by twelve 
shillings, we have here, to begin with, two days labour already 
incorporated in the yarn. 

We must not let ourselves be misled by the circumstance 
that the cotton has taken a new shape while the substance of 
the spindle has to a certain extent been used up. By the 
general law of value, if the value of 40 Ibs. of yarn = the value 
of 40 Ibs. of cotton + the value of a whole spindle, i.e., if the 
same working time is required to produce the commodities on 
either side of this equation, then 10 Ibs. of yarn are an 
equivalent for 10 Ibs. of cotton, together with one-fourth of a 
spindle. In the case we are considering the same working 
time is materialised in the 10 Ibs. of yarn on the one hand, 
and in the 10 Ibs. of cotton and the fraction of a spindle 
on the other. Therefore, whether value appears in cotton, in 
a spindle, or in yarn, makes no difference in the amount of 
that value. The spindle and cotton, instead of resting quietly 
side by side, join together in the process, their forms are 
altered, and they are turned into yarn ; but their value is 
no more affected by this fact than it would be if they had been 
simply exchanged for their equivalent in yarn. 

The labour required for the production of the cotton, the 


1 68 Capitalist Production. 

raw material of the yarn, is part of the labour necessary to 
produce the yarn, and is therefore contained in the yarn. The 
same applies to the labour embodied in the spindle, without 
whose wear and tear the cotton could not be spun. 

Hence, in determining the value of the yarn, or the labour- 
time required for its production, all the special processes 
carried on at various times and in different places, which were 
necessary, first to produce the cotton and the wasted portion of 
the spindle, and then with the cotton and spindle to spin the 
yarn, may together be looked on as different and successive 
phases of one and the same process. The whole of the labour 
in the yarn is past labour ; and it is a matter of no importance 
that the operations necessary for the production of its con 
stituent elements were carried on at times which, referred to 
the present, are more remote than the final operation of 
spinning. If a definite quantity of labour, say thirty days, 
is requisite to build a house, the total amount of labour incor 
porated in it is not altered by the fact that the work of the 
last day is done twenty-nine days later than that of the first. 
Therefore the labour contained in the raw material and the 
instruments of labour can be treated just as if it were labour 
expended in an earlier stage of the spinning process, before the 
labour of actual spinning commenced. 

The values of the means of production, i.e., the cotton and the 
spindle, which values are expressed in the price of twelve 
shillings, are therefore constituent parts of the value of the 
yarn, or, in other words, of the value of the product. 

Two conditions must nevertheless be fulfilled. First, the 
cotton and spindle must concur in the production of a use- 
value ; they must in the present case become yarn. Value is 
independent of the particular use-value by which it is borne, but 
it must be embodied in a use- value of some kind. Secondly, 
the time occupied in the labour of production must not exceed 
the time really necessary under the given social conditions of 
the case. Therefore, if no more than 1 Ib. of cotton be requisite 
to spin 1 Ib. of yarn, care must be taken that no more than 
this weight of cotton is consumed in the production of 1 Ib. of 
yarn ; and similarly with regard to the spindle. Though the 

The Labour Process. 169 

capitalist have a hobby, and use a gold instead of a steel 
spindle, yet the only labour that counts for anything in the 
value of the yarn is that which would be required to produce 
n steel spindle, because no more is necessary under the given 
social conditions. 

We now know what portion of the value of the yarn is ow 
ing to the cotton and the spindle. It amounts to twelve 
shillings or the value of two days work. The next point for 
our consideration is, what portion of the value of the yarn is 
added to the cotton by the labour of the spinner. 

We have now to consider this labour under a very different 
aspect from that which it had during the labour-process; there, 
we viewed it solely as that particular kind of human activity 
which changes cotton into yarn ; there, the more the labour 
was suited to the work, the better the yarn, other circumstances 
remaining the same. The labour of the spinner was then 
viewed as specifically different from other kinds of productive 
labour, different on the one hand in its special aim, viz., spinning, 
different, on the other hand, in the special character of its 
operations, in the special nature of its means of production and 
in the special use-value of its product. For the operation of 
spinning, cotton and spindles are a necessity, but for making 
rilled cannon they would be of no use whatever. Here, on the 
contrary, where we consider the labour of the spinner only so 
far as it is value-creating, i.e., a source of value, his labour differs 
in no respect from the labour of the man who bores cannon, or 
(what here more nearly concerns us), from the labour of the 
cotton-planter and spindle-maker incorporated in the means of 
production. It is solely by reason of this identity, that cotton 
planting, spindle making and spinning, are capable of forming 
the component parts, differing only quantitatively from each 
other, cf one whole, namely, the value of the yarn. Here, we 
have nothing more to do with the quality, the nature and the 
specific character of the labour, but merely with its quantity. 
And this simply requires to be calculated. We proceed upon 
the assumption that spinning is simple, unskilled labour, the 
average labour of a given state of society. Hereafter we shall 
see that the contrary assumption would make no difference. 

170 Capitalist Production. 

While the labourer is at work, his labour constantly under 
goes a transformation : from being motion, it becomes an object 
without motion ; from being the labourer working, it become* 
the thing produced. At the end of one hour s spinning, that 
act is represented by a definite quantity of yarn; in other 
words, a definite quantity of labour, namely that of one hour, 
has become embodied in the cotton. We say labour, i.e., the ex 
penditure of his vital force by the spinner, and not spinning 
labour, because the special work of spinning counts here, only 
so far as it is the expenditure of labour-power in general, and 
not in so far as it is the specific work of the spinner. 

In the process we are now considering it is of extreme im 
portance, that no more time be consumed in the work of trans 
forming the cotton into yarn than is necessary under the given 
social conditions. If under normal, i.e., average social condi 
tions of production, a pounds of cotton ought to be made into 
b pounds of yarn by one hour s labour, then a day s labour 
does not count as 12 hours 1 labour unless 12 a pounds of cotton 
have been made into 12 b pounds of yarn; for in the creation 
of value, the time that is socially necessary alone counts. 

Not only the labour, but also the raw material and the pro 
duct now appear in quite a new light, very different from that 
in which we viewed them in the labour-process pure and 
simple. The raw material serves now merely as an absorbent 
of a definite quantity of labour. By this absorption it is in- 
fact changed into yarn, because it is spun, because labour-power 
in the form of spinning is added to it ; but the product, the 
yarn, is now nothing more than a measure of the labour 
absorbed by the cotton. If in one hour If Ibs. of cotton can be 
spun into If Ibs. of yarn, then 10 Ibs. of yarn indicate the 
absorption of 6 hours labour, Definite quantities of product, 
these quantities being determined by experience, now represent 
nothing but definite quantities of labour, definite masses of 
crystallized labour-time. They are nothing more than the 
materialisation of so many hours or so many days of social 

We are here no more concerned about the facts, that the- 
labour is the specific work of spinning, that its subject is cotton^ 

The Labour Process. 171 

and its product yarn, than we are about the fact that the subject 
itself is already a product and therefore raw material If the 
spinner, instead of spinning, were working in a coal mine, the 
subject of his labour, the coal, would be supplied by Nature ; 
nevertheless, a definite quantity of extracted coal, a hundred 
weight for example, would represent a definite quantity of 
absorbed labour. 

We assumed, on the occasion of its sale, that the value of 
a day s labour-power is three shillings, and that six hours 
labour are incorporated in that sum ; and consequently that this 
amount of labour is requisite to produce the necessaries of life 
daily required on an average by the labourer. If now our 
spinner by working for one hour, can convert If Ibs. of cotton 
into If Ibs. of yarn, 1 it follows that in six hours he will convert 
10 Ibs. of cotton into 10 Ibs. of yarn. Hence, during the spinn 
ing process, the cotton absorbs six hours labour. The same 
quantity of labour is also embodied in a piece of gold of the 
value of three shillings. Consequently by the mere labour of 
spinning, a value of three shillings is added to the cotton. 

Let us now consider the total value of the product, the 10 
Ibs. of yarn. Two and a half days labour have been embodied 
in it, of which two days were contained in the cotton and in 
the substance of the spindle worn away, and half a day was 
absorbed during the process of spinning. This two and a half 
days labour is also represented by a piece of gold of the value 
of fifteen shillings. Hence, fifteen shillings is an adequate price 
for the 10 Ibs. of yarn, or the price of one pound is eighteen- 

Our capitalist stares in astonishment. The value of the pro 
duct is exactly equal to the value of the capital advanced. The 
.yalue so advanced has not expanded, no surplus- value has been 
created, and consequently money has not been converted into 
capital. The price of the yarn is fifteen shillings, and fifteen 
shillings were spent in the open market upon the constituent 
elements of the product, or, what amounts to the same thing, 
upon the factors of the labour-process ; ten shillings were paid 
for the cotton, two shillings for the substance of the, spindle 

1 These figure? are Quite arbitrary. 

I7 2 Capitalist Production. 

worn away, and three shillings for the labour-power. The 
swollen value of the yarn is of no avail, for it is merely the 
fium of the values formerly existing in the cotton, the spindle, 
.and the labour-power : out of such a simple addition of existing 
values, no surplus- value can possibly arise. 1 These separate 
values are now all concentrated in one thing ; but so they were 
also in the sum of fifteen shillings, before it was split up into 
three parts, by the purchase of the commodities. 

There is in reality nothing very strange in this result. The 
value of one pound of yarn being eighteenpence, if our capitalist 
buys 10 Ibs. of yarn in the market, he must pay fifteen shillings 
for them. It is clear that, whether a man buys his house ready 
built, or gets it built for him, in neither case will the mode of 
acquisition increase the amount of money laid out on the 

Our capitalist, who is at home in his vulgar economy, 
exclaims : " Oh ! but I advanced my money for the express 
purpose of making more money." The way to Hell is paved 
with good intentions, and he might just as easily have intended 
to make money, without producing at all. 2 He threatens all 
sorts of things. He won t be caught napping again. In 
future he will buy the commodities in the market, instead of 
manufacturing them himself. But if all his brother capitalists 
were to do the same, where would he find his commodities in 
the market ? And his money he cannot eat. He tries persua 
sion. " Consider my abstinence; I might have played ducks 
find drakes with the 15 shillings; but instead of that I con 
sumed it productively, and made yarn with it." Very well, 

1 This is the fundamental proposition on which is based the doctrine of the 
Physiocrats as to the unproductiveness of all labour that is not agriculture : it is 
irrefutable for the orthodox economist. "Cette facon d imputer a une seule chose 
la valeur de plusieurs autres " (par exemple au lin la consommation du tisserand), 
" d appliquer, pour ainsi dire, couche sur couche, plusieurs valeurs sur une seule, fait 
que celle-ci grossit d autant . . . . Le terme d addition peint tres-bien la 
xnaniere dont se forme le prix des ouvrages de main-d csuvre; ce prix n est qu un total 
de plusieurs valeurs consomme es et additionnees ensemble; or, additionner n est pas 
multiplier." (" Mercier de la Riviere," 1. c., p. 599.) 

2 Thus from 1844-47 he withdrew part of his capital from productive employment, 
in order to throw it away in railway speculations ; and so also, during the American 
Civil War, he closed his factory, and turned his work-peoplaiato the streets, in order 
to gamble on the Liverpool cotton exchange. 

The Labour Process. 173 

and by way of reward he is now in possession of good yarn 
instead of a bad conscience ; and as for playing the part of a 
miser, it would never do for him to relapse into such bad ways 
as that ; we have seen before to what results such asceticism 
leads. Besides, where nothing is, the king has lost his rights ; 
whatever may be the merit of his abstinence, there is nothing 
wherewith specially to remunerate it, because the value of the 
product is merely the sum of the values of the commodities 
that were thrown into the process of production. Let him 
therefore console himself with the reflection that virtue is its- 
own reward. But no, he becomes importunate. He says; 
" The yarn is of no use to me : I produced it for sale." In that 
case let him sell it, or, still better, let him for the future produce 
only things for satisfying his personal wants, a remedy that his 
physician M Culloch has already prescribed as infallible against 
an epidemic of over-production. He now gets obstinate. 
" Can the labourer," he asks, " merely with his arms and legs, 
produce commodities out of nothing ? Did I not supply him 
with the materials, by means of which, and in which alone, his 
labour could be embodied ? And as the greater part of society 
consists of such ne er-do-weels, have I not rendered society 
incalculable service by my instruments of production, my cotton 
and my spindle, and not only society, but the labourer also, 
whom in addition I have provided with the necessaries of life ? 
And am I to be allowed nothing in return for all this service ? " 
Well, but has not the labourer rendered him the equivalent 
service of changing his cotton and spindle into yarn ? More 
over, there is here no question of service. * A service is nothing 
more than the useful effect of a use- value, be it of a commodity, 

1 " Extol thyself, put on finery and adorn thyself . . . but whoever takes more 
or better than he gives, that is usury, and is not service, but wrong done to his neigh 
bour, as when one steals and robs. All is not service and benefit to a neighbour that 
is called service and benefit. For an adulteress and adulterer do one another great 
service and pleasure. A horseman does an incendiary a great service, by helping him 
to rob on the highway, and pillage land and houses. The papists do ours a great 
service in that they don t drown, burn, murder all of them, or let them all rot in 
prison ; but let some live, and only drive them out, or take from them what they 
have. The devil himself does his servants inestimable service ... To sum up, 
the world is full of great, excellent, and daily service and benefit." (Martin Luther : 
" An die Pfarherrn, wider den Wueher zu predigen," Wittenberg, 1540.) 

174 Capitalist Production. 

or be it of labour. i But here we are dealing with exchange- 
value. The capitalist paid to the labourer a value of 3 shillings, 
and the labourer gave him back an exact equivalent in the value 
of 3 shillings, added by him to the cotton : he gave him value 
for value. Our friend, up to this time so purse-proud, suddenly 
assumes the modest demeanour of his own workman, and 
exclaims : " Have I myself not worked ? Have I not performed 
the labour of superintendence and of overlooking the spinner ? 
And does not this labour, too, create value? 1 His overlooker 
and his manager try to hide their smiles. Meanwhile, after a 
hearty laugh, he re-assumes his usual mien. Though he 
chanted to us the whole creed of the economists, in reality, he 
says, he would not give a brass farthing for it. He leaves this 
and all such like subterfuges and juggling tricks to the 
professors of political economy, who are paid for it. He him 
self is a practical man ; and though he does not always consider 
what he says outside his business, yet in his business he knows 
what he is about. 

Let us examine the matter more closely. The value of a 
day s labour-power amounts to 3 shillings, because on our 
assumption half a day s labour is embodied in that quantity of 
labour-power, i.e., because the means of subsistence that are daily 
required for the production of labour-power, cost half a day s 
labour. But the past labour that is embodied in the labour- 
power, and the living labour that it can call into action ; the 
daily cost of maintaining it, and its daily expenditure in work, 
are two totally different things. The former determines the 
exchange- value of the labour-power, the latter is its use- value. 
The fact that half a day s labour is necessary to keep the 
labourer alive during 24 hours, does not in any way prevent 
him from working a whole day. Therefore, the value of labour- 
power, and the value which that labour-power creates in the 
labour process, are two entirely different magnitudes ; and this 
difference of the two values was what the capitalist had in 
view, when he was purchasing the labour-power. The useful 
qualities that labour-power possesses, and by virtue of which it 

1 In "Zur Kritik der Pol. Oek.," p. 14, I make the following remark on thig 
point "It is not difficult to understand what service the category service^ must 
.vender to a class of economists like J. B. Say and F. Bastiat." 

The Labour Process. 175 

makes yarn or boots, were to him nothing more than a conditio 
sine qua non; for in order to create value, labour must be 
expended in a useful manner. What really influenced him was 
the specific use-value which this commodity possesses of being 
a source not only of value, but of more value than it has itself- 
This is the special service that the capitalist expects from 
labour-power, and in this transaction he acts in accordance 
with the " eternal laws " of the exchange of commodities. The 
seller of labour-power, like the seller of any other commodity, 
realises its exchange-value, and parts with its use-value. He 
cannot take the one without giving the other. The use-value 
of labour-power, or in other words, labour, belongs just as little 
to its seller, as the use- value of oil after it has been sold belongs 
to the dealer who has sold it. The owner of the money has 
paid the value of a day s labour-power ; his, therefore, is the 
use of it for a day ; a day s labour belongs to him. The cir 
cumstance, that on the one hand the daily sustenance of labour- 
power costs only half a day s labour, while on the other hand 
the very same labour-power can work during a whole day, that 
consequently the value which its use during one day creates, is 
double what he pays for that use, this circumstance is, without 
doubt, a piece of good luck for the buyer, but by no means an 
injury to the seller. 

Our capitalist foresaw this state of things, and that was the 
<?ause of his laughter. The labourer therefore finds, in the 
workshop, the means of production necessary for working, not 
only during six, but during twelve hours. Just as during the 
six hours process our 10 Ibs. of cotton absorbed six hours labour, 
and became 10 Ibs. of yarn, so now, 20 Ibs. of cotton will absorb 12 
hours labour and be changed into 20 Ibs. of yarn. Let us now 
examine the product of this prolonged process. There is now 
materialised in this 20 Ibs. of yarn the labour of five days, of which 
four days are due to the cotton and the lost steel of the spindle, 
the remaining day having been absorbed by the cotton during 
the spinning process. Expressed in gold, the labour of five 
days is thirty shillings. This is therefore the price of the 
20 Ibs. of yarn, giving, as before, eighteenpence as the price of a 
pound. But the sum of the values of the commodities that 

176 Capitalist Production. 

entered into the process amounts to 27 shillings. The value 
of the yarn is 30 shillings. Therefore the value of the product 
is % greater than the value advanced for its production ; 27 
shillings have been transformed into 30 shillings ; a surplus- 
value of 3 shillings has been created. The trick has at last 
succeeded ; money has been converted into capital. 

Every condition of the problem is satisfied, while the laws 
that regulate the exchange of commodities, have been in no way 
violated. Equivalent has been exchanged for equivalent. For 
the capitalist as buyer paid for each commodity, for the cotton, 
the spindle and the labour-power, its full value. He then did 
what is done by every purchaser of commodities; he consumed 
their use-value. The consumption of the labour-power, which 
was also the process of producing commodities, resulted in 20 
Ibs. of yarn, having a value of 30 shillings. The capitalist, 
formerly a buyer, now returns to market as a seller, of com 
modities. He sells his yarn at eighteenpence a pound, which is 
its exact value. Yet for all that he withdraws 8 shillings more 
from circulation than he originally threw into it. This 
metamorphosis, this conversion of money into capital, takes 
place both within the sphere of circulation and also outside it ; 
within the circulation, because conditioned by the purchase of 
the labour-power in the market ; outside the circulation, be 
cause what is done within it is only a stepping-stone to the 
production of surplus- value, a process which is entirely confined 
to the sphere of production. Thus "tout est pour le rnieux 
dans le meilleur des mondes possibles." 

By turning his money into commodities that serve as the 
material elements of a new product, and as factors in the labour- 
process, by incorporating living labour with their dead sub 
stance, the capitalist at the same time converts value, i.e., past, 
materialised, and dead labour into capital, into value big with 
value, a live monster that is fruitful and multiplies. 

If we now compare the two processes of producing value and 
of creating surplus- value, we see that the latter is nothing but 
the c> ttinuation of the former beyond a definite point. If on 
the one hand the process be not carried beyond the point, 
where the value paid by the capitalist for the labour-power is 

Jhe Labour Process. 177 

replaced by an exact equivalent, it is simply a process of pro 
ducing value ; if, on the other hand, it be continued beyond 
that point, it becomes a process of creating surplus-value. 

If we proceed further, and compare the process of producing 
value with the labour-process, pure and simple, we find that 
the latter consists of the useful labour, the work, that produces 
use-values. Here we contemplate the labour as producing a 
particular article ; we view it under its qualitative aspect alone, 
with regard to its end and aim. But viewed as a value-creating 


process, the same labour-process presents itself under its 
quantitative aspect alone. Here it is a question merely of the 
time occupied by the labourer in doing the work; of the period 
during which the labour-power is usefully expended. Here, 
the commodities that take part in the process, do not count 
any longer as necessary adjuncts of labour-power in the pro 
duction of a definite, useful object. They count merely as 
depositaries of so much absorbed or materialised labour ; that 
labour, whether previously embodied in the means of production, 
or incorporated in them for the first time during the process 
by the action of labour-power, counts in either case only 
according to its duration ; it amounts to so many hours or days 
as the case may be. 

Moreover, only so much of the time spent in the production 
of any article is counted, as, under the given social conditions, 
is necessary. The consequences of this are various. In the 
first place, it becomes necessary that the labour should be 
carried on under normal conditions. If a self -acting mule is 


the implement in general use for spinning, it would be absurd 
to supply the spinner with a distaff and spinning wheel. The 
cotton too must not be such rubbish as to cause extra waste in 
being worked, but must be of suitable quality. Otherwise the 
spinner would be found to spend more time in producing a 
pound of yarn than is socially necessary, in which case the 
excess of time would create neither value nor money. But 
whether the material factors of the process are of norrral 
quality or not, depends not upon the labourer, but entirely upon 
the capitalist. Then again, the labour-power itself must be of 
average efficacy. In the trade in which it is being employed, 


178 Capitalist Production. 

it must possess the average skill, handiness and quickness pre 
valent in that trade, and our capitalist took good care to buy 
labour-power of such normal goodness. This power must be 
applied with the average amount of exertion and with the 
usual degree of intensity ; and the capitalist is as careful to 
see that this is done, as that his workmen are not idle for a 
single moment. He has bought the use of the labour- power 
for a definite period, and he insists upon his rights. He has 
no intention of being robbed. Lastly, and for this purpose our 
friend has a penal code of his own, all wasteful consumption of 
raw material or instruments of labour is strictlv forbidden, be- 


cause what is so wasted, represents labour superfluously ex 
pended, labour that does not count in the product or enter into 
its value. 1 

We now see, that the difference between labour, considered 
on the one hand as producing utilities, and on the other hand, 

1 This is one of the circumstances that makes production by slave labour such a 
costly process. The labourer here is, to use a striking expression of the ancients, dis 
tinguishable only aa instrumentum vocale, from an animal as instrumentum semi- 
vocale, and from an implement as instrumentum mutum. But he himself takes care 
to let both beast and implement feel that he is none of them, but is a man. He con 
vinces himself with immense satisfaction, that he is a different being, by treating 
the one unmercifully and damaging the other con amore. Hence the principle, uni 
versally applied in this method of production, only to employ the rudest and heaviest 
implements and such as are difficult to damage owing to their sheer clumsiness. In 
the slave-states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, down to the date of the civil war, 
ploughs constructed on old Chinese models, which turned up the soil like a hog or a 
mole, instead of making furrows, were alone to be found. Conf. J. C. Cairns. 
"The Slave Power," London, 1862, p. 46-49. In his "Sea Board Slave States," 
Olmsted tells us : "I am here shown tools that no man in his senses, with us, would 
allow a labourer, for whom he was paying wages, to be encumbered with ; and the 
excessive weight and clumsiness of which, I would judge, would make work at least 
ten per cent greater than with those ordinarily used with us. And I am assured that, 
in the careless and clumsy way they must be used by the slaves, anything lighter or 
less rude could not be furnished them with good economy, and that such tools as we 
constantly give our labourers and find our profit in giving them, would cot last out a 
day in a Virginia cornfield much lighter and more free from stones though it be 
than ours. So, too, when I ask why mules are so universally substituted for horses 
on the farm, the first reason given, and confessedly the most conclusive one, is that 
horses cannot bear the treatment that they always must get from negroes ; horses are 
always soon foundered or crippled by them, while mules will bear cudgelling, or lose 
a meal or two now and then, and not be materially injured, and they do not take cold or 
get sick, if neglected or overworked. But I do not need to go further than to the 
window of the room in which I am writing, to see at almost any time, treatment of 
cattle that would ensure the immediate discharge of the driver by almost any farmer 
owning them in the North." 

The Labour Process. 179 

as creating value, a difference which we discovered by out 
analysis of a commodity, resolves itself into a distinction be 
tween two aspects of the process of production. 

The process of production, considered on the one hand as 
the unity of the labour-process and the process of creating 
value, is production of commodities ; considered on the other 
hand as the unity of the labour-process and the process of pro 
ducing surplus- value, it is the capitalist process of production, 
or capitalist production of commodities. 

We stated, on a previous page, that in the creation of surplus- 
value it does not in the least matter, whether the labour ap 
propriated by the capitalist be simple unskilled labour of 
average quality or more complicated skilled labour. All labour 
of a higher or more complicated character than average labour 
is expenditure of labour-power of a more costly kind, labour- 
power whose production has cost more time and labour, and 
which therefore has a higher value, than unskilled or simple 
labour-power. This power being of higher value, its consump 
tion is labour of a higher class, labour that creates in equal times 
proportionally higher values than unskilled labour does. 
Whatever difference in skill there may be between the labour 
of a spinner and that of a jeweller, the portion of his labour 
by which the jeweller merely replaces the value of his own 
labour-power, does not in any way differ in quality from the 
additional portion by which he creates surplus- value. In the 
making of jewellery, just as in spinning, the surplus-value re 
sults only from a quantitative excess of labour, from a lengthen 
ing-out of one and the same labour-process, in the one case, of 
the process of making jewels, in the other of the process of 
making yarn. 1 

1 The distinction between skilled and unskilled labour rests in part on pure illu 
sion, or, to say the least, on distinctions that have long since ceased to be real, and 
that survive only by virtue oi a traditional convention ; in part on the helpless con 
dition of some groups of the working-class, a condition that prevents them from 
exacting equally with the rest the value of their labour-power. Accidental cir 
cumstances here play so great a part, that these two forms of labour sometimes 
change places. Where, for instance, the physique of the working-class has deterio 
rated, and is, relatively speaking, exhausted, which is the case in all countries with a 
well developed capitalist production, the lower forms of labour, which demand great 
expenditure of muscle, are in general considered as skilled, compared with much 
snore delicate forms of labour ; the latter sink down to the level of unskilled labour. 

i So Capitalist Production. 

But on the other hand, in every process of creating value, 
the reduction of skilled labour to average social labour, e.g., 
one day of skilled to six days of unskilled labour, is un 
avoidable. 1 We therefore save ourselves a superfluous opera 
tion, and simplify our analysis, by the assumption, that the 
labour of the workman employed by the capitalist is unskilled 
average labour. 



THE various factors of the labour-process play different parts 
in forming the value of the product. 

The labourer adds fresh value to the subject of his labour 
by expending upon it a given amount of additional labour, no 
matter what the specific character and utility of that labour 
may be. On the other hand, the values of the means of pro 
duction used up in the process are preserved, and present 
themselves afresh as constituent parts of the value of the pro- 
Take as an example the labour of a bricklayer, which in England occupies a much 
higher level than that of a damask-weaver. Again, although the labour of a fustian 
cutter demands great bodily exertion, and is at the same time unhealthy, yet it 
counts only as unskilled labour. And then, we must not forget, that the so-called 
skilled labour does not occupy a large space in the field of national labour. Laing 
estimates that in England (and Wales) the livelihood of 11,300,000 people depends 
on unskilled labour. If from the total population of 18,000,000 living at the time 
when he wrote, we deduct 1,000,000 for the "genteel population," and 1,500,000 
for paupers, vagrants, criminals, prostitutes, &c., and 4,650,000 who compose the 
middle-class, there remain the above mentioned 11,000,000. But in his middle-class 
he includes people that live on the interest of small investments, officials, men of 
letters, artists, schoolmasters and the like, and in order to swell the number he also 
includes in these 4,650,000 the better paid portion of the factory operatives ! The 
bricklayers, too, figure amongst them. (S. Laing : "National Distress," &c., London, 
1844.) " The great class who have nothing to give for food but ordinary labour, are 
the great bulk of the people." (James Mill, in art : " Colony," Supplement to the 
Encyclop. Brit., 1831.) 

i " Where reference is made to labour as a measure of value, it necessarily implies 
labour of one particular kind . . . the proportion which the other kinds bear to it 
being easily ascertained." ( " Outlines of Pol *Icon.," Lond., 1832, pp. 22 and 23.) 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 181 

duct ; the values of the cotton and the spindle, for instance, re 
appear again in the value of the yarn. The value of the 
means of production is therefore preserved, by being trans 
ferred to the product. This transfer takes place during the 
conversion of those means into a product, or in other words, 
during the labour-process. It is brought about by labour ; but 

The labourer does not perform two operations at once, one 
in order to add value to the cotton, the other in order to pre 
serve the value of the means of production, or, what amounts 
to the same thing, to transfer to the yarn, to the product, the 
value of the cotton on which he works, and part of the value 
of the spindle with which he works. But, by the very act of 
adding new value, he preserves their former values. Since, 
however, the addition of new value to the subject of his labour, 
and the preservation of its former value, are two entirely dis 
tinct results, produced simultaneously by the labourer, during 
one operation, it is plain that this twofold nature of the 
result can be explained only by the twofold nature of his 
labour ; at one and the same time, it must in one character 
create value, and in another character preserve or transfer 

Now, in what manner does every labourer add new labour 
and consequently new value ? Evidently, only by labouring 
productively in a particular way ; the spinner by spinning, the 
weaver by weaving, the smith by forging. But, while thus 
incorporating labour generally, that is value, it is by the par 
ticular form alone of the labour, by the spinning, the weaving 
and the forging respectively, that the means of production, the 
cotton and spindle, the yarn and loom, and the iron and anvil 
become constituent elements of the product, of a new use- 
value. 1 Each use- value disappears, but only to re-appear under 
a new form in a new use-value. Now, we saw, when we were 
considering the process of creating value, that, if a use-value 
be effectively consumed in the production of a new use-value, 
the quantity of labour expended in the production of the con- 

1 " Labour gives a new creation for one extinguished." ( " An essay on the Polit. 
Econ. of Nations," London, 1821, p. 13.) 

i8a Capitalist Production. 

sumed article, forms a portion of the quantity of labour 
necessary to produce the new use- value ; this portion is there 
fore labour transferred from the means of production to the 
new product. Hence, the labourer preserves the values of the 
consumed means of production, or transfers them as portions of 
its value to the product, not by virtue of his additional labour, 
abstractedly considered, but by virtue of the particular useful 
character of that labour, by virtue of its special productive 
form. In so far then as labour is such specific productive activ 
ity, in so far as it is spinning, weaving, or forging, it raises, by 
mere contact, the means of production from the dead, makes 
them living factors of the labour-process, and combines with 
them to form the new products. 

If the special productive labour of the workman were not 
spinning, he could not convert the cotton into yarn, and there 
fore could not transfer the values of the cotton and spindle to 
the yarn. Suppose the same workman were to change his 
occupation to that of a joiner, he would still by a day s labour 
add value to the material he works upon. Consequently, w 
see, first, that the addition of new value takes place not by 
virtue of his labour being spinning in particular, or joinering 
in particular, but because it is labour in the abstract, a portion 
of the total labour of society ; and we see next, that the value 
added is of a given definite amount, not because his labour 
has a special utility, but because it is exerted for a definite 
time. On the one hand, then, it is by virtue of its general 
character, as being expenditure of human labour-power in the 
abstract, that spinning adds new value to the values of the 
cotton and the spindle ; and on the other hand, it is by virtue 
of its special character, as being a concrete, useful process, that 
the same labour of spinning both transfers the values of the 
means of production to the product, and preserves them in the 
product. Hence at one and the same time there is produced a 
twofold result. 

By the simple addition of a certain quantity of labour, 
new value is added, and by the quality of this added 
labour, the original values of the means of production 
are preserved in the product. This twofold effect, resulting 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 183 

from the t\N ofold character of labour, may be traced in various 

Let us assume, that some invention enables the spinner to 
spin as much cotton in 6 hours as he was able to spin before in 
36 hours. His labour is now six times as effective as it 
was, for the purposes of useful production. The product of 6 
hours work has increased sixfold, from 6 Ibs. to 36 Ibs. But now 
the 36 Ibs. of cotton absorb only the same amount of labour as 
formerly did the 6 Ibs. One-sixth as much new labour is absorbed 
by each pound of cotton, and consequently, the value added by 
the labour to each pound is only one-sixth of what it formerly 
was. On the other hand, in the product, in the 36 Ibs. of yarn, 
the value transferred from the cotton is six times as great as 
before. By the 6 hours spinning, the value of the raw 
material preserved and transferred to the product is six times 
as great as before, although the new value added by the 
labour of the spinner to each pound of the very same raw 
material is one-sixth what it was formerly. This shows that the 
two properties of labour, by virtue of which it is enabled in 
one case to preserve value, and in the other to create value, are 
essentially different. On the one hand, the longer the time 
necessary to spin a given weight of cotton into yarn, the 
greater is the new value added to the material ; on the other 
hand, the greater the weight of the cotton spun in a given time, 
the greater is the value preserved, by being transferred from it 
to the product 

Let us now assume, that the productiveness of the spinner s 
labour, instead of varying, remains constant, that he therefore 
requires the same time as he formerly did, to convert one 
pound of cotton into yarn, but that the exchange value of the 
cotton varies, either by rising to six times its former value or fall 
ing to one-sixth of that value. In both these cases, the spinnei 
puts the same quantity of labour into a pound of cotton, anc 
therefore adds as much value, as he did before the change in 
the value : he also produces a given weight of yarn in the 
same time as he did before. Nevertheless, the value that he 
transfers from the cotton to the yarn is either one-sixth of what 
it was before the variation, or, as the case may be, six times as 

184 Capitalist Production. 

much as before. The same result occurs when the value of the 
instruments of labour rises or falls, while their useful efficacy 
in the process remains unaltered. 

Again, if the technical conditions of the spinning process re 
main unchanged, and no change of value takes place in the 
means of production, the spinner continues to consume in 
equal working-times equal quantities of raw material, and equal 
quantities of machinery of unvarying value. The value that 
he preserves in the product is directly proportional to the new 
value that he adds to the product. In two weeks he incor 
porates twice as much labour, and therefore twice as much 
value, as in one week, and during the same time he consumes 
twice as much material, and wears out twice as much 
machinery, of double the value in each case ; he therefore pre 
serves, in the product of two weeks, twice as much value as in 
the product of one week. So long as the conditions of produc 
tion remain the same, the more value the labourer adds by 
fresh labour, the more value he transfers and preserves ; but he 
does so merely because this addition of new value takes place 
under conditions that have not varied and are independent of 
his own labour. Of course, it may be said in one sense, that 
the labourer preserves old value always in proportion to the 
quantity of new value that he adds. Whether the value of 
cotton rise from one shilling to two shillings, or fall to six 
pence, the workman invariably preserves in the product of one 
hour only one half as much value as he preserves in two hours. 
In like manner, if the productiveness of his own labour varies 
by rising or falling, he will in one hour spin either more or less 
cotton, as the case may be, than he did before, and will con 
sequently preserve in the product of one hour, more or less 
value of cotton ; but, all the same, he will preserve by two 
hours labour twice as much value as he will by one. 

Value exists only in articles of utility, in objects : we leave 
out of consideration its purely symbolical representation by 
tokens. (Man himself, viewed as the impersonation of labour- 
power, is a natural object, a thing, although a living conscious 
thing, and labour is the manifestation of this power residing in 
him.) If therefore an article loses its utility, it also loses its 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 185 

value. The reason why means of production do not lose their 
value, at the same time that they lose their use- value, is this : 
they lose in the labour-process the original form of their use- 
value, only to assume in the product the form of a new use- value. 
But, however important it may be to value, that it should have 
some object of utility to embody itself in, yet it is a matter of 
complete indifference what particular object serves this purpose; 
this we saw when treating of the metamorphosis of commodities. 
Hence it follows that in the labour-process the means of pro 
duction transfer their value to the product only so far as along 
with their use- value they lose also their exchange value. 
They give up to the product that value alone which they 
themselves lose as means of production. But in this respect the 
material factors of the labour-process do not all behave alike. 

The coal burnt under the boiler vanishes without leaving a 
trace ; so, too, the tallow with which the axles of wheels are 
greased. Dye stuffs and other auxiliary substances also vanish 
but re-appear as properties of the product. Raw material 
forms the substance of the product, but only after it has changed 
its form. Hence raw material and auxiliary substances lose 
the characteristic form with which they are clothed on entering 
the labour-process. It is otherwise with the instruments of 
labour. Tools, machines, workshops, and vessels, are of use in 
the labour-process, only so long as they retain their original 
shape, and are ready each morning to renew the process with 
their shape unchanged. And just as during their lifetime, 
that is to say, during the continued labour-process in which, 
they serve, they retain their shape independent of the product, 
so, too, they do after their death. The corpses of machines, 
tools, workshops, &c., are always separate and distinct from the 
product they helped to turn out. If we now consider the case 
of any instrument of labour during the whole period of its 
service, from the day of its entry into the workshop, till the 
day of its banishment into the lumber room, we find that dur 
ing this period its use-value has been completely consumed, 
and therefore its exchange value completely transferred to the 
product. For instance, if a spinning machine lasts for 10 years, 
it is plain that during that working period its total value is 

1 86 Capitalist Production. 

gradually transferred to the product of the 10 years. The life 
time of an instrument of labour, therefore, is spent in the 
repetition of a greater or less number of similar operations. 
lis life may be compared with that of a human being. Every 
day brings a man 24 hours nearer to his grave : but how many 
days he has still to travel on that road, no man can tell 
accurately by merely looking at him. This difficulty, however, 
does not prevent life insurance offices from drawing, by means 
of the theory of averages, very accurate, and at the same time 
very profitable conclusions. So it is with the instruments of 
labour. It is known by experience how long on the average a 
machine of a particular kind will last. Suppose its use- value 
in the labour-process to last only six days. Then, on the 
average, it loses each day one-sixth of its use- value, and there 
fore parts with one-sixth of its value to the daily product. The 
wear and tear of all instruments, their daily loss of use- value, 
and the corresponding quantity of value they part with to the 
product, are accordingly calculated upon this basis. 

It is thus strikingly clear, that means of production never 
transfer more value to the product than they themselves lose 
during the labour-process by the destruction of their own use- 
value. If such an instrument has no value to lose, if, in other 
words, it is not the product of human labour, it transfers no 
value to the product It helps to create use-value without con 
tributing to the formation of exchange value. In this class are 
included all means of production supplied by Nature without 
human assistance, such as land, wind, water, metals in situ, and 
timber in virgin forests. 

Yet another interesting phenomenon here presents itself. 
Suppose a machine to be worth 1000, and to wear out in 1000 
days. Then one thousandth part of the value of the machine 
is daily transferred to the day s product. At the same time, 
though with diminishing vitality, the machine as a whole con 
tinues to take part in the labour-process. Thus it appears, 
that one factor of the labour-process, a means of production, 
continually enters as a whole into that process, while it enters 
into the process of the formation of value by fractions only. 
The difference between the two processes is here reflected in 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 187 

their material factors, by the same instrument of production 
taking part as a whole in the labour-process, while at the same 
time as an element in the formation of value, it enters only by 
fractions. 1 

On the other hand, a means of production may take part as a 
whole in the formation of value, while into the labour-process 
it enters only bit by bit. Suppose that in spinning cotton, the 
waste for every 115 Ibs. used amounts to 15 Ibs., which is con 
verted, not into yarn, but into " devil s dust." Now, although 
this 15 Ibs. of cotton never becomes a constituent element of 
the yarn, yet assuming this amount of waste to be normal and 
inevitable under average conditions of spinning, its value is 
just as surely transferred to the value of the yarn, as is the 
value of the 100 Ibs. that form the substance of the yarn. The 
use-value of 15 Ibs. of cotton must vanish into dust, before 100 
Ibs. of yarn can be made. The destruction of this cotton is 
therefore a necessary condition in the production of the yarn. 
And because it is a necessary condition, and for no other reason ( 
the value of that cotton is transferred to the product. The same 
holds good for every kind of refuse resulting from a labour- 
process, so far at least as such refuse cannot be further employed 
as a means in the production of new and independent use- values- 

1 The subject of repairs of the implements of labour does not concern us here. A 
machine that IB undergoing repair, no longer plays the part of an instrument, but 
that of a subject of labour. Work is no longer done with it, but upon it. It is quite 
permissible for our purpose to assume, that the labour expended on the repairs of in 
struments is included in the labour necessary for their original production. But in 
the text we deal with that wear and tear, which no doctor can cure, and which little 
by little brings about death, with " that kind of wear which cannot be repaired from 
time to time, and which, in the case of a knife, would ultimately reduce it to a state 
in which the cutler would say of it, it is not worth a new blade." We have shewn in 
the text, that a machine takes part in every labour-process as an integral machine, but 
that into the simultaneous process of creating value it enters only bit by bit. How 
great then is the confusion of ideas exhibited in the following extract ! " Mr. Kicardo 
says a portion of the labour of the engineer in making [stocking] machines " is 
contained for example in the value of a pair of stockings. "Yet the total labour, 
that produced each single pair of stockings .... includes the whole labour of 
the engineer, not a portion ; for one machine makes many pairs, and none of those 
pairs could have been done without any part of the machine." (" Obs. on certain verbal 
disputes in Pol. Econ. particularly relating to value,"p. 54. ) The author, an uncommonly 
self-satisfied wiseacre, is right in his confusion and therefore in his contention, to this 
extent only, that neither Bicardo nor any other economist, before or since him, has 
accurately distinguished the two aspects of labour, and still less, therefore, the part 
played by it under each of these aspects in the formation of value. 

1 88 Capitalist Production. 

Such an employment of refuse may be seen in the large machine 
works at Manchester, where mountains of iron turnings are 
carted away to the foundry in the evening, in order the next 
morning to re-appear in the workshops as solid masses of 

We have seen that the means of production transfer value to 
the new product, so far only as during the labour-process they 
lose value in the shape of their old use-value. The maximum 
loss of value that they can suffer in the process, is plainly 
limited by the amount of the original value with which they 
came into the process, or in other words, by the labour-time 
necessary for their production. Therefore, the means of pro 
duction can never add more value to the product than they 
themselves possess independently of the process in which they 
assist. However useful a given kind of raw material, or a 
machine, or other means of production may be, though it may 
cost 150, or, say, 500 days labour, yet it cannot, under any 
circumstances, add to the value of the product more than 150. 
Its value is determined not by the labour-process into which it 
enters as a means of production, but by that out of which it has 
issued as a product. In the labour-process it only serves as a 
mere use-value, a thing with useful properties, and could not, 
therefore, transfer any value to the product, unless it possessed 
such value previously. 1 

1 From thia we may judge of the absurdity of J. B. Say, who pretends to account 
for surplus-value (Interest, Profit, Kent), by the " services productifs " which the 
meant of production, soil, instruments, and raw material, render in the labour-process 
by means of their use-values. Mr. Wm. Roscher who seldom loses an occasion of re 
gistering, in black and white, ingenious apologetic fancies, records the following 
specimen : " J. B. Say (Traits , t. 1. ch. 4) very truly remarks : the value produced 
by an oil mill, after deduction of all costs, is something new, something quite different 
from the labour by which the oil mill itself was erected." (1. c., p. 82, note.) Very 
true, Mr. Professor ! the oil produced by the oil mill is indeed something very different 
from the labour expended in constructing the mill ! By value, Mr Roscher under 
stands such stuff as " oil," because oil has value, notwithstanding that " Nature " pro 
duces petroleum, though relatively " in small quantities," a fact to which he seems to 
refer in his further observation : " It (Nature) produces scarcely any exchange-value." 
Mr. Reseller s "Nature" and the exchange-value it produces are rather like the 
foolish virgin who admitted indeed that she had had a child, but " it was such a little 
one." This "savant serieux" in continuation remarks : " Ricardo s school is in the 
habit of including capital as accumulated labour under the head of labour. This is 
unskilful work, because, indeed, the owner of capital, after all, does something more 
than the merely creating and preserving of the same : namely, the abstention from 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 189 

While productive labour Is changing the means of produc 
tion into constituent elements of a new product, their value 
undergoes a metempsychosis. Tt deserts the consumed body, 
to occupy the newly created one. But this transmigration 
takes place, as it were, behind the back of the labourer. He 
is unable to add new labour, to create new value, without a 
the same time preserving old values, and this, because th 
labour he adds must be of a specific useful kind ; and he can 
not do work of a useful kind, without employing products as 
the means of production of a new product, and thereby trans 
ferring their value to the new product. The property there 
fore which labour-power in action, living labour, possesses of 
preserving value, at the same timo that it adds it, is a gift of 
Nature which costs the labourer nothing, but which is very 
advantageous to the capitalist inasmuch as it preserves the 
existing value of his capital. 1 So long as trade is good, the 
capitalist is too much absorbed in money-grubbing to take 
notice of this gratuitous gift of labour. A violent interruption 
of the labour-process by a crisis, makes him sensitively aware 
of it. 3 

As regards the means of production, what is really consumed 
is their use-value, and the consumption of this use- value by labour 

the enjoyment of it, for which he demands, e.g., interest." (1. c.) How very "skil 
ful "is this " anatomico-physiological method " of political economy, which, " indeed," 
converts a mere desire " after all " into a source of value. 

1 "Of all the instruments of the farmers trade, the labour of man ... is that on 
which he is most to rely for the repayment of his capital. The other two . . . the work 
ing stock of the cattle and the . . . carts, ploughs, spades, and so forth, without a 
given portion of the first, are nothing at all." (Edmund Burke : " Thoughts and Do- 
tails on Scarcity, originally presented to the Right Hon. W. Pitt, in the month of 
November 1795," Edit. London, 1800, p. 10.) 

2 In " The Times " of 26th November, 1862, a manufacturer, whose mill employed 
800 hands, and consumed, on the average, 150 bales of East Indian, or 130 bales of 
American cotton, complains, in doleful manner, of the standing expenses of his 
factory when not working. He estimates them at 6,000 a year. Among them are 
a number of items that do not concern us here, such as rent, rates, and taxes, in 
surance, salaries of the manager, book-keeper, engineer, and others. Then he reckons 
150 for coal used to heat the mill occasionally, and run the engine now and than. 
Besides this, he includes the wages of the people employed at odd times to keep the 
machinery in working order. Lastly, he puts down 1,200 for depreciation of 
machinery, because " the weather and the natural principle of decay do not suspend 
their operations because the steam-engine ceases to revolve." He says, emphatically, 
he does not estimate his depreciation at more than the small sum of 1,200, because 
his machinery is already nearly worn out. 

190 Capitalist Production. 

results in the product. There is no consumption of their value/ 
and it would therefore be inaccurate to say that it is reproduced. 
It is rather preserved ; not by reason of any operation it under 
goes itself in the process ; but because the article in which it 
originally exists, vanishes, rt is true, but vanishes into some 
other article. Hence, in the value of the product, there is a 
re-appearance of the value of the means of production, but 
there is, strictly speaking, no reproduction of that value. That 
which is produced is a new use- value in which the old exchange- 
value re-appears.* 

It is otherwise with the subjective factor of the labour-pro 
cess, with labour-power in action. While the labourer, by 
virtue of his labour being of a specialised kind that has a 
special object, preserves and transfers to the product the value 
of the means of production, he at the same time, by the mere 
act of working, creates each instant an additional or new value. 
Suppose the process of production to be stopped just when the 
workman has produced an equivalent for the value of his own 
labour-power, when, for example, by six hours labour, he has 
added a value of three shillings. This value is the surplus, of 
the total value of the product, over the portion of its value 
that is due to the means of production. It is the only original 
bit of value formed during this process, the only portion of the 
value of the product created by this process. Of course, we 

1 "Productive consumption . . . where the consumption of a commodity is a part of 
the process of production. . . . In these instances there is no consumption of value." 
(S. P. Newman, 1. c. p. 290.) 

2 In an American compendium that has gone through, perhaps, 20 editions, this 
passage occurs : "It matters not in what form capital re-appean ; " then after a 
lengthy enumeration of all the possible ingredients of production whose value re 
appears in the product, the passage concludes thus : " The various kinds of food, 
clothing, and shelter, necessary for the existence and comfort of the human being, 
are also changed. They are consumed from time to time, and their value re-appears 
in that new vigour imparted to his body and mind, forming fresh capital, to be em 
ployed again in the work of production." (F. Wayland, 1. c. pp. 31, 32 ) "Without 
noticing any other oddities, it suffices to observe, that what re-appears in the fresh 
vigour, is not the bread s price, but its blood-forming substances. What, on the 
other hand, re-appears in the value of that vigour, is not the means of subsistence, 
but their value. The same necessaries of life, at half the price, would form just as 
much muscle and bone, just as much vigour, but not vigour of the same value. This 
confusion of "value" and "vigour " coupled with our author s pharisaical indefinite- 
ness, mark an attempt, futile for all that, to thrash out an explanation of surplus- 
yalue from a mere re-appearance of pre-existing values. 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 1 9 1 

do not forget that this new value only replaces the money 
advanced by the capitalist in the purchase of the labour-power, 
and spent by the labourer on the necessaries of life. With 
regard to the money spent, the new value is merely a repro 
duction ; but, nevertheless, it is an actual, and not, as in the 
case of the value of the means of production, only an apparent, 
reproduction. The substitution of one value for another, is 
here effected by the creation of new value. 

We know, however, from what has gone before, that the 
labour-process may continue beyond the time necessary to re 
produce and incorporate in the product a mere equivalent for 
the value of the labour-power. Instead of the six hours that 
are sufficient for the latter purpose, the process may continue 
for twelve hours. The action of labour-power, therefore, not 
only reproduces its own value, but produces value over and 
above it. This surplus-value is the difference between the 
value of the product and the value of the elements consumed 
in the formation of that product, in other words, of the means 
of production and the labour-power. 

By our explanation of the different parts played by the vari 
ous factors of the labour-process in the formation of the pro 
duct s value, we have, in fact, disclosed the characters of the 
different functions allotted to the different elements of capital 
in the process of expanding its own value. The surplus of the 
t< tal value of the product, over the sum of the values of its 
constituent factors, is the surplus of the expanded capital over 
the capital originally advanced. The means of production on 
the one hand, labour-power on the other, are merely the differ 
ent modes of existence which the value of the original capital 
assumed when from being money it was transformed into the 
various factors of the labour-process. That part of capital 
then, which is represented by the means of production, by the 
raw material, auxiliary material and the instruments of labour, 
does not, in the process of production, undergo any quantitative 
alteration of value. I therefore call it the constant part of 
capital, or, more shortly, constant capital. 

On the other hand, that part of capital, represented by 
labour-power, does, in the process of production, undergo an 

192 Capitalist Production. 

alteration of value. It both reproduces the equivalent of it* 
OWD value, and also produces an excess, a surplus-value, which 
may itself vary, may be more or less according to circumstances. 
This part of capital is continually being transformed from a 
constant into a variable magnitude. I therefore call it the 
variable part of capital, or, shortly, variable capital. The same 
elements of capital which, from the point of view of the 
labour-process, present themselves respectively as the objective 
and subjective factors, as means of production and labour- 
power, present themselves, from the point of view of the pro 
cess of creating surplus- value, as constant and variable capital. 
The definition of constant capital given above by no means 
excludes the possibility of a change of value in its elements. 
Suppose the price of cotton to be one day sixpence a pound, 
and the next day, in consequence of a failure of the cotton crop, 
a shilling a pound. Each pound of the cotton bought at six 
pence, and worked up after the rise in value, transfers to the 
product a value of one shilling ; and the cotton already spun 
before the rise, and perhaps circulating in the market as yarn, 
likewise transfers to the product twice its original value. It 
is plain, however, that these changes of value are independent 
of the increment or surplus- value added to the value of the 
cotton by the spinning itself. If the old cotton had never 
been spun, it could, after the rise, be resold at a shilling a 
pound instead of at sixpence. Further, the fewer the processes 
the cotton has gone through, the more certain is this result. 
We therefore find that speculators make it a rule when such 
sudden changes in value occur, to speculate in that material on 
which the least possible quantity of labour has been spent : to 
speculate, therefore, in yarn rather than in cloth, in cotton it 
self, rather than in yarn. The change of value in the case we 
have been considering, originates, not in the process in which the 
cotton plays the part of a means of production, and in which it 
therefore functions as constant capital, but in the process in 
which the cotton itself is produced. The value of a commodity, 
it is true, is determined by the quantity of labour contained in 
it, but this quantity is itself limited by social conditions. If 
the time socially necessary for the production of any com- 

Constant Capital and Variable Capital. 193 

modity alters and a given weight of cotton represents, after a 
bad harvest, more labour than after a good one all previously 
existing commodities of the same class are affected, because they 
are, as it were, only individuals of the species, 1 and their 
value at any given time is measured by the labour socially 
necessary, i.e., by the labour necessary for their production 
under the then existing social conditions. 

As the value of the raw material may change, so, too, may 
that of the instruments of labour, of the machinery, &c., em 
ployed in the process ; and consequently that portion of the 
value of the product transferred to it from them, may also 
change. If in consequence of a new invention, machinery of a 
particular kind can be produced by a diminished expenditure 
of labour, the old machinery becomes depreciated more or les.s 
and consequently transfers so much less value to the product 
But here again, the change in value originates outside the 
process in which the machine is acting as a means of pro 
duction. Once engaged in this process, the machine cannot 
transfer more value than it possesses apart from the process. 

Just as a change in the value of the means of pro 
duction, even after they have commenced to take a part in the 
labour process, does not alter their character as constant 
capital, so, too, a change in the proportion of constant to 
variable capital does not affect the respective functions of these 
two kinds of capital. The technical conditions of the labour 
process may be revolutionised to such an extent, that where 
formerly ten men using ten implements of small value worked 
up a relatively small quantity of raw material, one man may 
now, with the aid of one expensive machine, work up one 
hundred times as much raw material. In the latter case we 
have an enormous increase in the constant capital, that is re 
presented by the total value of the means of production used, 
and at the same time a great reduction in the variable capital, 
invested in labour-power. Such a revolution, however, alters 
only the quantitative relation between the constant and the 

1 Toutes lea productions d un mSme genre ne f orment proprement qu*une masse, 
dont le prix se d&termine en general et sans egard aux circonstances partionlierea. * 
(Le Trosne, 1. c., p. 893.) 


194 Capitalist Production. 

variable capital, or the proportions in which the total capital 
is split up into its constant and variable constituents ; it has 
not in the least degree affected the essential difference between 
the two. 



THE surplus- value generated in the process of production by C, 
the capital advanced, or in other words, the self-expansion of 
the value of the capital C, presents itself for our consideration, 
in the first place, as a surplus, as the amount by which the 
value of the product exceeds the value of its constituent 

The capital C is made up of two components, one, the sum 
of money c laid out upon the means of production, and the 
other, the sum of money v expended upon the labour-power ; 
c represents the portion that has become constant capital, and 
v the portion that has become variable capital. At first then, 
C=c+v: for example, if 500 is the capital advanced, its com 
ponents maybe such that the 500=410 const. + 90 var. 
When the process of production is finished, we get a com 
modity whose value=(c + v) + s, where s is the surplus- value ; 
or taking our former figures, the value of this commodity may 
be (410 const. + 90 var.) + 90 surpl. The original capital 
has now changed from C to C 7 , from 500 to 590. The differ 
ence is s or a surplus value of 90. Since the value of the 
constituent elements of the product is equal to the value of 
the advanced capital, it is mere tautology to say, that the ex 
cess of the value of the product over the value of its constitu 
ent elements, is equal to the expansion of the capital advanced 
or to the surplus- value produced. 

Nevertheless, we must examine this tautology a little more 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 195 

closely. The two things compared are, the value of the pro 
duct and the value of its constituents consumed in the process 
of production. Now we have seen how that portion of the 
constant capital which consists of the instruments of labour, 
transfers to the product only a fraction of its value, while the 
remainder of that value continues to reside in those instru 
ments. Since this remainder plays no part in the formation of 
value, we may at present leave it on one side. To introduce it 
into the calculation would make no difference. For instance, 
taking our former example, c=410: suppose this sum to con 
sist of 312 value of raw material, 44 value of auxiliary 
material, and 54 value of the machinery worn away in the 
process; and suppose that the total value of the machinery 
employed is 1,054. Out of this latter sum, then, we reckon 
as advanced for the purpose of turning out the product, the 
sum of 54 alone, which the machinery loses by wear and 
tear in the process ; for this is all it parts with to the product. 
Now if we also reckon the remaining 1,000, which still con 
tinues in the machinery, as transferred to the product, we 
ought also to reckon it as part of the value advanced, and thus 
make it appear on both sides of our calculation. 1 We should, 
in this way, get 1,500 on one side and 1,590 on the other! 
he difference of these two sums, or the surplus-value, would 
still be 90. Throughout this Book therefore, by constant 
capital advanced for the production of value, we always mean, 
unless the context is repugnant thereto, the value of the means 
of production actually consumed in the process, and that value 

This being so, let us return to the formula CUc + v, which 
we saw was transformed into C^c+vHs, Q becoming C . 
We know that the value of the constant capital is transferred 
to, and merely re-appears in the product. The new value 
actually created in the process, the value produced, or value- 
product, is therefore not the same as the value of the product ; 
it is not, as it would at first sight appear (c + v) + s or 410 

1 If we reckon the value of the fixed capital employed as a part of the advance* 
je must reckon the remaining value of such capital at the end of the year as I 
of the annual returns. "(Malthus, Princ. of Pol. Econ.2nd ed., Lond., 1836 p m 

196 Capitalist Production, 

const. + 90 var. + 90 surpl; but v + s or 90 var.+90 surpL 
not 590 but 180. If c=o, or in other words, if there were 
branches of industry in which the capitalist could dispense 
with all means of production made by previous labour, whether 
they be raw material, auxiliary material, or instruments of 
labour, employing only labour-power and materials supplied 
by Nature, in that case, there would be no constant capital to 
transfer to the product. This component of the value of the 
product, i.e. t the 410 in our example, would be eliminated, 
but the sum of 180, the amount of new value created, or the 
value produced, which contains 90 of surplus- value, would 
remain just as great as if c represented the highest value 
imaginable. We should have G=(0-t-v)=v or (T the expanded 
capital=v-f-s and therefore (T C=s as before. On the other 
hand, if s=0, or in other words, if the labour-power, whose 
value is advanced in the form of variable capital, were to pro 
duce only its equivalent, we should have C=c+v or C the 
value of the product=(c+v)+0 or C=C / . The capital advanced 
would, in this case, not have expanded its value. 

From what has gone before, we know that surplus- value is 
purely the result of a variation in the value of v, of that portion 
of the capital which is transformed into labour-power; con 
sequently, v-fs = v-fv orv plus an increment of v. But the 
fact that it is v alone that varies, and the conditions of that 
variation, are obscured by the circumstance that in consequence 
of the increase in the variable component of the capital, there 
is also an increase in the sum total of the advanced capital. It 
was originally 500 and becomes 590. Therefore in order 
that our investigation may lead to accurate results, we must 
make abstraction from that portion of the value of the pro 
duct, in which constant capital alone appears, and consequently 
must equate the constant capital to zero or make c = 0. This 
is merely an application of a mathematical rule, employed 
whenever we operate with constant and variable magnitudes, 
related to each other by the symbols of addition and sub 
traction only. 

A further difficulty is caused by the original form of the 
variable capital. In our example, C = 410 const. + 90 var 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 197 

+ 90 surpl. ; but 90 is a given and therefore a constant 
quantity ; hence it appears absurd to treat it as variable. But 
in fact, the term 90 var. is here merely a symbol to show that 
this value undergoes a process. The portion of the capital in 
vested in the purchase of labour-power is a definite quantity of 
materialised labour, a constant value like the value of the 
labour-power purchased. But in the process of production the 
place of the 90 is taken by the labour-power in action, dead 
labour is replaced by living labour, something stagnant by 
something flowing, a constant by a variable. The result is the 
reproduction of v plus an increment of v. From the point of 
view then of capitalist production, the whole process appears 
as the spontaneous variation of the originally constant value, 
which is transformed into labour-power. Both the process and 
its result, appear to be owing to this value. If, therefore, such 
expressions as " 90 variable capital," or " so much self- 
expanding value," appear contradictory, this is only because 
they bring to the surface a contradiction immanent in capitalist 

At first sight it appears a strange proceeding, to equate the 
constant capital to zero. Yet it is what we do every day. If, 
for example, we wish to calculate the amount of England s 
profits from the cotton industry, we first of all deduct the sums 
paid for cotton to the United States, India, Egypt and other 
countries ; in other words, the value of the capital that merely 
re-appears in the value of the product, is put = 0. 

Of course the ratio of surplus- value not only to that portion 
of the capital from which it immediately springs, and whose 
change of value it represents, but also to the sum total of the 
capital advanced is economically of very great importance. 
We shall, therefore, in the third book, treat of this ratio ex 
haustively. In order to enable one portion of a capital to ex 
pand its value by being converted into labour-power, it is 
necessary that another portion be converted into means of pro 
duction. In order that variable capital may perform its 
function, constant capital must be advanced in proper proportion, 
a proportion given by the special technical conditions of each 
labour-process. The circumstance, however, that retorts and 

198 Capitalist Production. 

other vessels, are necessary to a chemical process, does not 
compel the chemist to notice them in the result of his analysis. 
If we look at the means of production, in their relation to the 
creation of value, and to the variation in the quantity of value, 
apart from anything else, they appear simply as the material 
in which labour-power, the value-creator, incorporates itself. 
Neither the nature, nor the value of this material is of ariv 


importance. The only requisite is that there be a sufficient 
supply to absorb the labour expended in the process of pro 
duction. That supply once given, the material may rise or 
fall in value, or even be, as land and the sea, without any value 
in itself; but this will have no influence on the creation of value 
or on the variation in the quantity of value. 1 

In the first place then we equate the constant capital to zero. 
The capital advanced is consequently reduced from c-r-v to v, 
and instead of the value of the product (e+v)-f s we have now 
the value produced (v+s). Given the new value produced =r 
180, which sum consequently represents the whole labour ex 
pended during the process, then subtracting from it 90 the 
value of the variable capital, we have remaining 90, the 
amount of the surplus- value. This sum of 90 or s expresses 
the absolute quantity of surplus-value produced. The relative 
quantity produced, or the increase per cent of the variable 
capital, is determined, it is plain, by the ratio of the surplus- 
value to the variable capital, or is expressed by *. In our 
example this ratio is |J, which gives an increase of 100 %, 
This relative increase in the value of the variable capital, or 
the relative magnitude of the surplus-value, I call, " The rate 
of surplus-value." 

We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the 
labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power,, 
that is, the value of his means of subsistence. Now since his 

1 What Lucretius says is self-evident ; * nil posse creari de nihilo," out of nothing, 
nothing can be created. Creation of value is transformation of labour-power into- 
labour. Labour-power itself is energy transferred to a human organism by means of 
nourishing matter. 

2 In the same way that the English use the terms "rate of profit," "rate of in 
terest." We shall see, in Book III., that the rate of profit is no mystery, so soon as 
we know the laws of surplus-value. If we reverse the process, we ?annot compre 
hend either the one or the other. 

l"he Rate of Surplus-value. 1 99 

work forms part of a system, based on the social division of 
labour, he does not directly produce the actual necessaries 
which he himself consumes ; he produces instead a particular 
commodity, yarn for example, whose value is equal to the 
value of those necessaries or of the money with whicl they 
can be bought. The portion of his day s labour devoted to 
this purpose, will be greater or less, in proportion to the value 
of the necessaries that he daily requires on an average, or, 
what amounts to the same thing, in proportion to the labour- 
time required on an average to produce them. If the value 
of those necessaries represent on an average the expenditure 
of six hours labour, the workman must on an average wort 
for six hours to produce that value. If instead of working for 
the capitalist, he worked independently on his own account, he 
would, other things being equal, still be obliged to labour 
the same number of hours, in order to produce the value of 
his labour-power, and thereby to gain the means of subsistence 
necessary for his conservation or continued reproduction, 
as we have seen, during that portion of his day s labour in 
which he produces the value of his labour-power, say three 
shillings, he produces only an equivalent for the value of his 
labour-power already advanced by the capitalist ; the new 
value created only replaces the variable capital advanced, 
is owing to this fact, that the production of the new value of 
three shillings takes the semblance of a mere reproduction. 
That portion of the working day, then, during which this re 
production take place, I call necessary " labour-tune, and 
labour expended during that time I call " necessary 
Necessary, as regards the labourer, because independent of the 
particular social form of his labour ; necessary, as regards 
capital, and the world of capitalists, because on the continued 
existence of the labourer depends their existence also. 

During the second period of the labour-process, that in 

i In this work, we have, up to now, employed the term necessary labour-time," to 
designate the time necessary under given social conditions for the production of any 
commodity. Henceforward we use it to designate also the time necessary for 
production of the particular commodity labour-power. The use of one and the sam 
technical term in diiferent senses is inconvenient, but in no science can it I 
altogether avoided. Compare, for instance, the higher with the lower branches 

2OO Capitalist Production. 

which his labour is no longer necessary labour, the workman, 
it is true, labours, expends labour-power; but his labour, being 
no longer necessary labour, he creates no value for himself. 
He creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the 
charms of a creation out of nothing. This portion of the 
working day, I name surplus labour-time, and to the labour 
expended during that time, I give the name of surplus-labour. 
It is every bit as important, for a correct understanding of 
surplus- value, to conceive it as a mere congelation of surplus- 
labour-time, as nothing but materialised surplus-labour, as it 
is, for a proper comprehension of value, to conceive it as a mere 
congelation of so many hours of labour, as nothing but ma 
terialised labour. The essential difference between the various 
economic forms of society, between, for instance, a society 
based on slave labour, and one based on wage labour, lies only 
in the mode in which this surplus-labour is in each case ex 
tracted from the actual producer, the labourer. 1 

Since, on the one hand, the values of the variable capital 
and of the labour-power purchased by that capital are equal, 
and the value of this labour-power determines the necessary 
portion of the working day ; and since, on the other hand, the 
surplus-value is determined by the surplus portion of the 
working day, it follows that surplus-value bears the same ratio 
to variable capital, that surplus-labour does to necessary labour, 
or in other words, the rate of surplus- value \ = 
Both ratios, - and i urplu il*J> ur express the same thing in different 

T necessary labour 

ways ; in the one case by reference to materialised, incorporated 
labour, in the other by reference to living, fluent labour. 

The rate of surplus-value is therefore an exact expression 

1 Herr Wilhelm Thucydides Roscher has found a mare s nest. He has made the 
important discovery that if, on the one hand, the formation of surplus-value, or 
surplus-produce, and the consequent accumulation of capital, is now-a-days due to 
the thrift of the capitalist, on the other hand, in the lowest stages of civilisation it is 
the strong who compel the weak to economise (1. c. p. 78). To economise what? 
Labour ? Or superfluous wealth that does not exist ? What is it that makes such 
men as Roscher account for the origin of surplus-value, by a mere rechauffe of the 
more or less plausible excuses by the capitalist, for his appropriation of surplus-value ? 
It is, besides their real ignorance, their apologetic dread of a scientific analysis of 
value and surplus- value, and of obtaining a result, possibly not altogether palatable 
to the powers that be. 

7 he Rate of Surplus-value. 201 

for the degree of exploitation of labour-power by capital, or of 
the labourer by the capitalist. 1 

We assumed in our example, that the value of the product 
=410 const. + 90 var. + 90 surpl., and that the capital 
advanced = 500. Since the surplus- value = 90, and the ad 
vanced capital = 500, we should, according to the usual way 
of reckoning, get as the rate of surplus value (generally con 
founded with rate of profits) 18%, a rate so low as possibly 
to cause a pleasant surprise to Mr. Carey and other harmon- 
isers. But in truth, the rate of surplus-value is not equal 
to or 1^ but to i : thus it is not P but f$ or 100%, which 
is more than five times the apparent degree of exploitation. 
Although, in the case we have supposed, we are ignorant of 
the actual length of the working day, and of the duration in 
days or weeks of the labour-process, as also of the number of 
labourers employed, yet the rate of surplus- value i accurately 
discloses to us, by means of its equivalent expression, 

the relation between the two parts of the working day. This 
relation is here one of equality, the rate being 100%. Hence, 
it is plain, the labourer, in our example, works one half of the 
day for himself, the other half for the capitalist. 

The method of calculating the rate of surplus- value is there 
fore, shortly, as follows. We take the total value of the product 
and put the constant capital which merely re-appears in it, 
equal to zero. What remains, is the only value that has, in the 
process of producing the commodity, been actually created. If 
the amount of surplus-value be given, we have only to deduct 
it from this remainder, to find the variable capital. And vice 
versd, if the latter be given, and we require to find the surplus- 
value. If both be given, we have only to perform the conclud 
ing operation, viz., to calculate -, the ratio of the surplus-value 
to the variable capital. 

1 Although the rate of surplus-value is an exact expression for the degree of ex 
ploitation of labour-power, it is, in no sense, an expression for the absolute amount 
of exploitation. For example, if the necessary labour P=S 5 hours and the surplus- 
labour -* 5 hours, the degree of exploitation is 100%. The amount of exploitation is 
here measured by 5 hours. If, on the other hand, the necessary labour ~ 6 hours 
and the surplus-labour ?=> 6 hours, the degree of exploitation remains, as before, 
100%, while the actual amount of exploitation has increased 20%, namely from fiv 
-hours to six. 

2O2 Capitalist Production. 

Though the method is so simple, yet it may not be amiss, by 
means of a few examples, to exercise the reader in the applica 
tion of the novel principles underlying it. 

First we will take the case of a spinning mill containing 
10,000 mule spindles, spinning No. 32 yarn from American 
cotton, and producing 1 Ib. of yarn weekly per spindle. We 
assume the waste to be 6 % : under these circumstances 10,600 
Ibs. of cotton are consumed weekly, of which 600 Ibs. go to 
waste. The price of the cotton in April, 1871, was 7fd. per 
Ib. ; the raw material therefore costs in round numbers 342. 
The 10,000 spindles, including preparation -machinery, and 
motive power, cost, we will assume, 1 per spindle, amounting 
to a totaV of 10,000. The wear and tear we put at 10 %, or 
1 000 yearly = 20 weekly. The rent of the building we 
suppose to be 300 a year, or 6 a week. Coal consumed (for 
100 horse-power indicated, at 4 Ibs. of coal per horse-power per 
hour during 60 hours, and inclusive of that consumed in heating 
the mill), 11 tons a week at 8s. 6d. a ton, amounts to about 4J 
a week: gas, 1 a week, oil, &c., 4 J a week. Total cost of the above 
auxiliary materials, 10 weekly. Therefore the constant portion 
of the value of the week s product is 378. Wages amount 
to 52 a week. The price of the yarn is 12Jd. per Ib., which 
gives for the value of 10,000 Ibs. the sum of 510. The surplus 
value is therefore in this case 510 430 80. We put 
the constant part of the value of the product = 0, as it plays 
no part in the creation of value. There remains 132 as the 
weekly value created, which = 52 var. 80 surpl. The 
rate of surplus-value is therefore fo = 153H %. In a working 
day of 10 hours with average labour the result is : necessary 
labour = 33i hours, and surplus-labour = 6^. 1 

One more example. Jacob gives the following calculation for 
the year 1815. Owing to the previous adjustment of several 
items it is very imperfect ; nevertheless for our purpose it is 
sufficient. In it he assumes the price of wheat to be 8s. a 
quarter, and the average yield per acre to be 22 bushels. 

1 The above data, which may be relied upon, were given me by a Manchester spinner. 
In England the horse-power of an engine was formerly calculated from the diameter 
of its cylinder, now the actual horse-power shown by the indicator is taken. 

TJie Rate of Surplus-value. 203 


Seed, - -190 
Manure, - - 2 10 
Wages, - - 3 10 

Total, -790 

Tithes, Rates, and 

Taxes, - -110 
Rent, "- - 180 
Farmer s Profit and 

Interest, - 120 

Total, - 3 11 

Assuming that the price of the product is the same as its 
value, we here find the surplus-value distributed under the 
various heads of profit, interest, rent, &c. We have nothing to 
do with these in detail; we simply add them together, and the 
sum is a surplus- value of 3 11s. Od. The sum of 3 19s. Od., 
paid for seed and manure, is constant capital, and we put it 
equal to zero. There is left the sum of 3 10s. Od., which is 
the variable capital advanced : and we see that a new value of 
3 10s. Od. + 3 lls. Od. has been produced in its place. 
Therefore = -fHJ-J-^b giving a rate of surplus- value of more 
than 100 %. The labourer employs more than one half of his 
working day in producing the surplus-value, which different 
persons, under different pretexts, share amongst themselves. 1 


Let us now return to the example by which we were shown 
how the capitalist converts money into capital. 

The product of a working day of 12 hours is 20 Ibs. of yarn, 
having a value of 30s. No less than ^-ths of this value, or 24s., 
is due to mere re-appearance in it, of the value of the means of 
production (20 Ibs. of cotton, value 20s., and spindle worn away, 
4s.) : it is therefore constant capital. The remaining ^-ths or 
6s. is the new value created during the spinning process : of 

1 The calculations given in the text are intended merely as illustrations. "We have 
in fact assumed that prices = values. We shall, however, see, in Book III., thai) 
even in the case of average prices the assumption cannot be made in this very simple 

2O4 Capitalist Production. 

this one half replaces the value of the day s labour-power, or the 
variable capital, the remaining half constitutes a surplus- value 
of 3s. The total value then of the 20 Ibs. of yarn is made up 
as follows : 

30s. value of yarn = 24s. const, -f 3s. var. + 3s. surpl. 

Since the whole of this value is contained in the 20 Ibs. of 
yarn produced, it follows that the various component parts of 
this value, can be represented as being contained respectively 
in corresponding parts of the product. 

If the value of 30s. is contained in 20 Ibs. of yarn, then ^ ths 
of this value, or the 24s. that form its constant part, is con 
tained in ^ths of the product or in 16 Ibs. of 3^arn. Of the 
latter 13J Ibs. represent the value of the raw material, the 20s. 
worth of cotton spun, and 2f Ibs. represent the 4s. worth of 
spindle, &c., worn away in the process. 

Hence the whole of the cotton used up in spinning the 20 
Ibs. of yarn, is represented by 13 \ Ibs. of yarn. This latter 
weight of yarn contains, it is true, by weight, no more than 13 J 
Ibs. of cotton, worth 13 J shillings ; but the 6f shillings additional 
value contained in it, are the equivalent for the cotton consumed 
in spinning the remaining 6| Ibs. of yarn. The effect is the 
same as if these 6f Ibs. of yarn contained no cotton at all, and 
the whole 20 Ibs. of cotton were concentrated in the 13 \ Ibs. of 
yarn. The latter weight, on the other hand, does not contain 
an atom either of the value of the auxiliary materials and imple 
ments, or of the value newly created in the process. 

In the same way, the 2f Ibs. of yarn, in which the 4s., the re 
mainder of the constant capital, is embodied, represents nothing 
but the value of the auxiliary materials and instruments of 
labour consumed in producing the 20 Ibs. of yarn. 

We have, therefore, arrived at this result: although eight- 
tenths of the product, or 16 Ibs. of yarn, is, in its character of 
an article of utility, just as much the fabric of the spinner s 
labour, as the remainder of the same product, yet when viewed 
in this connexion, it does not contain, and has not absorbed 
any labour expended during the process of spinning. It is just 
as if the cotton had converted itself into yarn, without help ; 
as if the shape it had assumed was mere trickery and deceit : 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 205 

for so soon as our capitalist sells it for 24s., and with the money 
replaces his means of production, it becomes evident that this 
16 Ibs. of yarn is nothing more than so much cotton and spindle- 
waste in disguise. 

On the other hand, the remaining -* ths of the product, or 4? 
Ibs. of yarn, represent nothing but the new value of 6s., created 
during the 12 hours spinning process. All the value trans 
ferred to those 4 Ibs., from the raw material and instruments 
of labour consumed, was, so to say, intercepted in order to be 
incorporated in the 16 Ibs. first spun. In this case, it is as if 
the spinner had spun 4 Ibs. of yarn out of air, or, as if he had 
spun them with the aid of cotton and spindles, that, being the 
spontaneous gift of Nature, transferred no value to the product. 

Of this 4 Ibs. of yarn, in which the whole of the value newly 
created during the process, is condensed, one half represents 
the equivalent for the value of the labour consumed, or the 3s. 
variable capital, the other half represents the 3s. surplus-value. 

Since 12 working hours of the spinner are embodied in 6s., 
it follows that in yarn of the value of 80s., there must be em 
bodied 60 working hours. And this quantity of labour- time 
does in fact exist in the 20 Ibs. of yarn ; for in f ths or 16 Ibs. 
there are materialised the 48 hours of labour expended, before 
the commencement of the spinning process, on the means of 
production ; and in the remaining y ths or ^ ^)S. there are 
materialised the 12 hours work done during the process itself. 

On a former page we saw that the value of the yarn is equal 
to the sum of the new value created during the production of 
that yarn plus the value previously existing in the means of 

It has now been shown how the various component parts of 
the value of the product, parts that differ functionally from 
each other, may be represented by corresponding proportional 
parts of the product itself. 

To split up in this manner the product into different parts, 
of which one represents only the labour previously spent on 
the means of production, or the constant capital, another, only 
the necessary labour spent during the process of production, or 
the variable capital, and another and last part, only the surplus- 

206 Capitalist Production. 

labour expended during the same process, or the surplus- value ; 
to do this, is, as will be seen later on from its application to 
complicated and hitherto unsolved problems, no less impor 
tant than it is simple. 

In the preceding investigation we have treated the total 
product as the final result, ready for use, of a working day of 
12 hours. We can however follow this total product through 
all the stages of its production ; and in this way we shall 
arrive at the same result as before, if we represent the partial 
products, given off at the different stages, as functionally 
different parts of the final or total product. 

The spinner produces in 12 hours 20 Ibs. of yarn, or in 1 
hour If Ibs. ; consequently he produces in 8 hours 13 J Ibs., or 
a partial product equal in value to all the cotton that is spun 
in a whole day. In like manner the partial product of the 
next period of 1 hour and 36 minutes, is 2| Ibs. of yarn : this 
represents the value of the instruments of labour that are con 
sumed in 12 hours. In the following hour and 12 minute.-., 
the spinner produces 2 Ibs. of yarn worth 3 shillings, a value 
equal to the whole value he creates in his 6 hours necessary 
labour. Finally, in the last hour and 12 minutes he produce^ 
another 2 Ibs. of yarn, whose value is equal to the surplus- 
value, created by his surplus-labour during half a day. This 
method of calculation serves the English manufacturer for 
everyday use ; it shows, he will say, that in the first 8 hours, 
or of the working day, he gets back the value of his cotton ; 
and so on for the remaining hours. It is also a perfectly 
correct method: being in fact the first method given above 
with this difference, that instead of being applied to space, in 
which the different parts of the completed product lie side by 
side, it deals with time, in which those parts ai e successively 
produced. But it can also be accompanied by very barbarian 
notions, more especially in the heads of those who are as mm b 
interested, practically, in the process of making value beget 
value, as they are in misunderstanding thab process theoreti 
cally. Such people may get the notion into their heads, that 
our spinner, for example, produces or replaces in the lirst 8 
hours of his working day the value of the cotton; in the 

The Rate of Surplus-vahie. 207 

following hour and 36 minutes the value of the instruments of 
labour worn away; in the next hour and 12 minutes the value 
of the wages ; and that he devotes to the production of surplus- 
value for the manufacturer, only that well known " last hour." 
In this way the poor spinner is made to perform the two-fold 
miracle not only of producing cotton, spindles, steam-engine, 
coal, oil, &c., at the same time that he spins with them, but 
also of turning one working day into five ; for, in the example 
we are considering, the production of the raw material and instru 
ments of labour demands four working days of twelve houra 
each, and their conversion into yarn requires another such day. 
That the love of lucre induces an easy belief in such miracles, 
and that sycophant doctrinaires are never wanting to prove 
them, is vouched for by the following incident of historical 


One fine morning, in the year 1836, Nassau W. Senior, who 
may be called the bel-esprit of English economists, well known, 
alike for his economical "science," and for his beautiful style, 
was summoned from Oxford to Manchester, to learn in the 
latter place, the political economy that he taught in the former. 
The manufacturers elected him as their champion, not only 
against the newly passed Factory Act, but against the still 
more menacing Ten-hours agitation. With their usual practical 
acuteness, they had found out that the learned Professor 
" wanted a good deal of finishing ; " it was this discovery that 
caused them to write for him. Oil his side the Professor has 
embodied the lecture he received from the Manchester manu 
facturers, in a pamphlet, entitled : " Letters on the Factory 
Act, as it affects the cotton manufacture." London, 1837. 
Here we find, amongst others, the following edifying passage : 
" Under the present law, no mill in which persons under 18 

years of age are employed, can be worked more 

than 11 J hours a day, that is, 12 hours for 5 days in the week, 
and nine on Saturday. 

Now the following analysis (3) will show that in a mill so 

208 Capitalist Production. 

worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. I 
will suppose a manufacturer to invest 100,000 : 80,000 in 
his mill and machinery, and 20,000 in raw material and wages, 
The annual return of that mill, supposing the capital to be 
turned once a year, and gross profits to be 15 per cent., ought 

to be goods worth 115,000 Of this 115,000, 

each of the twenty-three half-hours of work produces 5-11 5 ths 
or one twenty-third. Of these 23-23rds (constituting the whole 
115,000) twenty, that is to say 100,000 out of the 115,000, 
simply replace the capital; one twenty-third (or 5000 out 
of the 115,000) makes up for tb^ deterioration of the mill and 
machinery. The remaining 2-23rds, that is, the last two of the 
twenty-three half-hours of every day, produce the net profit of 
10 per cent. If, therefore (prices remaining the same), the 
factory could be kept at work thirteen hours instead of eleven 
and a half, with an addition of about 2600 to the circulating 
capital, the net profit would be more than doubled. On the 
other hand, if the hours of working were reduced by one hour 
per day (prices remaining the same), the net profit would be 
destroyed if they were reduced by one hour and a half, even 
the gross profit would be destroyed." J 

1 Senior, 1. c. , p. 12, 13. "We let pass such extraordinary notions as are of no im 
portance for our purpose ; for instance, the assertion, that manufacturers reckon as 
part of their profit, gross or net, the amount required to make good wear and tear of 
machinery, or in other words, to replace a part of the capital. So, too, we pass over 
any question as to the accuracy of his figures. Leonard Homer has shown in "A 
Letter to Mr. Senior," &c., London, 1837, that they are worth no more than the so- 
called " Analysis." Leonard Homer was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners 
in 1833, and Inspector, or rather Censor of Factories till 1859. He rendered undying 
service to the English working class. He carried on a life-long contest, not only 
with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet, to whom the number 
of votes given by the masters in the Lower House, was a matter of far greater impor 
tance than the number of hours worked by the " hands " in the mills. 

Apart from errors in principle, Senior s statement is confused. What he really in 
tended to say was this : The manufacturer employs the workman for ll.j hours or for 
23 half-hours daily. As the working day, so, too, the working year, may be conceived 
to consist of 11^ hours or 23 half -hours, but each multiplied by the number of working 
days in the year. On this supposition, the 23 half -hours yield an annual product of 
115,000; one half -hour yields ^ x 115,000; 20 half-hours yield || x 115,000; 
= 100, 000, i. e. , they replace no more than the capital advanced. There remain 3 half - 
hours, which yield -$ x 115,000= 15,000 or the gross profit. Of these 8 half -hours, one 
yields ^ x 115,000 = 5000; i.e., it makes up for the wear and tear of the 
machinery ; the remaining 2 half -hours, i.e., the last hour, yield -^ x 115,000 =- 
10,000 or the net profit. In the text Senior converts the last ^% of the product 
portions of the working day itself. 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 209 

And the professor calls this an " analysis ! If, giving" 
credence to the out-cries of the manufacturers, he believed that 
the workmen spend the best part of the day in the production, 
t.0., the reproduction or replacement of the value of the build 
ings, machinery, cotton, coal, &c., then his analysis was super 
fluous. His answer would simply have been : Gentlemen ! 
if you work your mills for 10 hours instead of 11 j, then, other 
things being equal, the daily consumption of cotton, machinery, 
&c., will decrease in proportion. You gain just as much as 
you lose. Your work-people will in future spend one hour 
and a half less time in reproducing or replacing the capital 
that has been advanced. If, on the other hand, he did not 
believe them without further inquiry, but, as being an expert 
in such matters, deemed an analysis necessary, then he ought, 
in a question that is concerned exclusively with the relations 
of net profit to the length of the working day, before all things 
to have asked the manufacturers, to be careful not to lump 
together machinery, workshops, raw material, and labour, but 
to be good enough to place the constant capital, invested in 
buildings, machinery, raw material, &c., on one side of the 
account, and the capital advanced in wages on the other side. 
If the professor then found, that in accordance with the calcu 
lation of the manufacturers, the workman reproduced or re 
placed his wages in 2 half-hours, in that case, he should have 
continued his analysis thus : 

According to your figures, the workman in the last hour but 
one produces his wages, and in the last hour your surplus- 
value or net profit. Now, since in equal periods he produces 
equal values, the produce of the last hour but one, must have 
the same value as that of the last hour. Further, it is only 
while he labours that he produces any value at all, and the 
amount of his labour is measured by his labour-time. This 
you say, amounts to 11 hours a day. He employs one portion 
of these 11^ hours, in producing or replacing his wages, and the 
remaining portion in producing your net profit Beyond this he 
does absolutely nothing. But since, on your assumption, his 
wages, and the surplus-value he yields, are of equal value, it 

is clear that he produces his wages in 5J hours, and your net 


2io Capitalist Production. 

profit in the other 5| hours. Again, since the value of the 
yarn produced in 2 hours, is equal to the sum of the values of 
his wages and of your net profit, the measure of the value of 
this yarn must be lli working hours, of which 5f hours 
measure the value of the yarn produced in the last hour but 
one, and 5f, the value of the yarn produced in the last hour. 
We now come to a ticklish point ; therefore, attention ! The 
last working hour but ono is, like the first, an ordinary working 
hour, neither more nor less. How then can the spinner pro 
duce in one hour, in the shape of yarn, a value that embodies 
5f hours labour ? The truth is that he performs no such 
miracle. The use-value produced by him in one hour, is a 
definite quantity of yarn. The value of this yarn is measured 
by 5 j working hours, of which 4f were, without any assistance 
from him, previously embodied in the means of production, in 
the cotton, the machinery, and so on ; the remaining one hour 
alone is added by him. Therefore since his wages are produced 
in 5f hours, and the yarn produced in one hour also contains 
5| hours work, there is no witchcraft in the result, that the 
value created by his 5f hours spinning, is equal to the value of 
the product spun in one hour. You are altogether on the 
wrong track, if you think that he loses a single moment of his 
working day, in reproducing or replacing the values of the 
cotton, the machinery, and so on. On the contrary, it is be 
cause his labour converts the cotton and spindles into yarn, 
because he spins, that the values of the cotton and spindles go 
over to the yarn of their own accord. This result is owing to 
the quality of his labour, not to its quantity. It is true, he 
will in one hour transfer to the yarn more value, in the shape 
of cotton, than he will in half an hour ; but that is only be 
cause in one hour he spins up more cotton than in half an 
hour. You see then, your assertion, that the workman pro 
duces, in the last hour but one, the value of his wages, and in 
the last hour your net profit, amounts to no more than this, 
that in the yarn produced by him in 2 working hours, whether 
they are the 2 first or the 2 last hours of the working day, in 
that yarn, there are incorporated llg working hours, or just a 
whole day s work, ie., two hours of his own work and 9a hours 

The Rate of Surplus-value. 211 

of other people s. And my assertion that, in the first 5| hours, 
he produces his wages, and in the last 5J hours your net profit, 
amounts only to this, that you pay him for the former, but not 
for the latter. In speaking of payment of labour, instead of 
payment of labour-power, I only talk your own slang. Now, 
gentlemen, if you compare the working time you pay for, with 
that which you do not pay for, you will find that they are to 
one another, as half a day is to half a day ; this gives a rate of 
100%, and a very pretty percentage it is. Further, there is 
not the least doubt, that if you make your " hands " toil for 13 
hours, instead of 11^, and, as may be expected from you, treat 
the work done in that extra one hour and a half, as pure 
surplus-labour, then the latter will be increased from 5f hours 
labour to 7J hours labour, and the rate of surplus-value from 
100% to 126 4 %. So that you are altogether too sanguine, in 
expecting that by such an addition of 1J hours to the working 
day, the rate will rise from 100% to 200% and more, in other 
words that it will be "more than doubled." On the other 
hand man s heart is a wonderful thing, especially when 
carried in the purse you take too pessimist a view, when you 
fear, that with a reduction of the hours of labour from \\\ to 
10, the whole of your net profit will go to the dogs. Not at 
all. All other conditions remaining the same, the surplus- 
labour will fall from of hours to 4f hours, a period that still 
gives a very profitable rate of surplus-value, namely 82J* %. 
But this dreadful " last hour," about which you have invented 
more stories than have the millenarians about the day of 
judgment, is "all bosh." If it goes, it will cost neither you, 
your net profit, nor the boys and girls whom you employ, their 
"purity of mind." 1 Whenever your "last hour" strikes in 

1 If, on the one hand, Senior proved that the net profit of the manufacturer, 
the existence of the English cotton industry, and England s command of the markets 
of the world, depend on " the last working hour," on the other hand, Dr. Andrew 
Ure showed, that if children and young persons under 18 years of age, instead of being 
kept the full 12 hours in the warm and pure moral atmosphere of the factory, are 
turned out an hour sooner into the heartless and frivolous outer world, they will be 
deprived, by idleness and vice, of all hope of salvation for their souls. Since 1848, the 
factory inspectors have never tired of twitting the masters with this "last," this 

fatal hour. " Thus Mr. Howell in his report of the 31st May, 1855 : "Had the follow 
ing ingenious calculation (he quotes Senior) been correct, every cotton factory in the 
United Kingdom would have been working at a loss since the year 1850." (Reports 

212 Capitalist Production. 

earnest, think on the Oxford Professor. And now, gentleman,. 
" farewell, and may we meet again in yonder better world, but 
not before." 

Senior invented the battle cry of the " last hour " in 1836. 1 

of the Insp. of Fact, for the half-year, ending 30th April, 1855, pp. 19, 20.) In the 
year 1848, after the passing of the 10 hour s bill, the masters of some flax spinning 
mills, scattered, few and far between, over the country on the borders of Dorset and 
Somerset, foisted a petition against the bill on to the shoulders of a few of their work 
people. One of the clauses of this petition is as follows: "Your petitioners, a 
parents, conceive that an additional hour of leisure will tend more to demoralise the 
children than otherwise, believing that idleness is the parent of vice." On this the 
factory report of 31st Oct., 1848, says : The atmosphere of the flax mills, in which the 
children of these virtuous and tender parents work, is so loaded with dust and fibre 
from the raw material, that it is exceptionally unpleasant to stand even 10 minutes in 
the spinning rooms : for you are unable to do so without the most painful sensation r 
owing to the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, and mouth, being immediately filled by the 
clouds of flax dust from which there is no escape. The labour itself, owing to the 
feverish haste of the machinery, demands unceasing application of skill and movement, 
under the control of a watchfulness that never tires, and it seems somewhat hard, to- 
let parents apply the term "idling" to their own children, who, after allowing for 
meal times, are fettered for 10 whole hours to such an occupation, in such an atmos 
phere. . . . These children work longer than the labourers in the neighbouring 

villages Such cruel talk about "idleness and vice" ought to be 

branded as the purest cant, and the most shameless hypocrisy That 

portion of the public, who, about 12 years ago, were struck by the assurance with 
which, under the sanction of high authority, it was publicly and most earnestly pro 
claimed, that the whole net profit of the manufacturer flows from the labour of the 
last hour, and that, therefore, the reduction of the working day by one hour, would 
destroy his net profit , that portion of the public, we say, will hardly believe its own 
eyes, when it now finds, that the original discovery of the virtues of " the last hour " 
has since been so far improved, as to include morals as well as profit ; so that, if the 
duration of the labour of children, is reduced to a full 10 hours, their morals, together 
with the net profits of their employers, will vanish, both being dependent on this last, 
this fatal hour. (See Repts., Insp. of Fact., for 31st Oct., 1848, p. 101.) The same 
report then gives some examples of the morality and virtue of thesejsame pure-minded 
manufacturers, of the tricks, the artifices, the cajoling, the threats, and the falsifica 
tions, they made use of, in order, first, to compel a few defenceless workmen to sign 
petitions of such a kind, and then to impose them upon Parliament as the petitions 
of a whole branch of industry, or a whole country. It is highly characteristic of the 
present status of so called economical science, that neither Senior himself, who, at a- 
later period, to his honour be it said, energetically supported the factory legislation, 
nor his opponents, from first to last, have ever been able to explain the false con 
clusions of the " original discovery." They appeal to actual experience, but the why 
and wherefore remains a mystery. 

1 Nevertheless, the learned professor was not without some benefit from his journey 
to Manchester. In the " Letters on the Factory Act," he makes the whole net gah.a 
including " profit " and " interest, " and even "something more," depend upon a single 
unpaid hour s work of the labourer. One year previously, in his "Outlines of Political 
Economy," written for the instruction of Oxford students and cultivated Philistines, 
he had aho " discovered, in opposition to Ricardo s determination of value by labour, 
that profit is derived from the labour of the capitalist, and interest from his asceticism^ 

Tke Rate of Surplus-value. 213 

in the London Economist of the 15th April, 1848, the same cry 
was again raised by James Wilson, an economical mandarin of 
high standing: this time in opposition to the 10 hours bill. 


The portion of the product that represents the surplus- value, 
(one-tenth of the 20 Ibs., or 2 Ibs. of } T arn, in the example given 
in Sec. 2.) we call " surplus-produce." Just as the rate of 
surplus- value is determined by its relation, not to the sum total 
of the capital, but to its variable part ; in like manner, the re 
lative quantity of surplus-produce is determined by the ratio 
that this produce bears, not to the remaining part of the total 
product, but to that part of it in which is incorporated the 
necessary labour. Since the production of surplus-value is the 
chief end and aim of capitalist production, it is clear, that the 
greatness of a man s or a nation s wealth should be measured, 
not by the absolute quantity produced, but by the relative 
magnitude of the surplus-produce. 1 

The sum of the necessary labour and the surplus-labour, i.e., 
<>f the periods of time during which the workman replaces the 
-value of his labour-power, and produces the surplus-value, this 
sum constitutes the actual time during which he works, i.e., the 
working day. 

in other words, from his "abstinence." The dodge was an old one, but the word 
4 abstinence "was new. Herr Roscher trar slates it rightly by " Enthaltung." Some of 
his countrymen, the Browns, Jones, and Robinsons, of Germany, not so well versed 
in Latin as he, have, monk-like, rendered it by "Entsagung" (renunciation). 

1 "To an individual with a capital of 20,000, whose profits were 2000 per annum, 
it would be a matter quite indifferent whether his capital would employ a 100 or 1000 
men, whether the commodity produced sold for 10,000 or 20,000, provided, in all 
cases, his profit were not diminished below 2000. Is not the real interest of the nation 
similar ? Provided its net real income, its rent and profits, be the same, it is of no 
importance whether the nation consists of 10 or of 12 millions of inhabitants." (Ric. 
1. c., p. 416.) Long before Ricardo, Arthur Young, a fanatical upholder of surplus 
produce, for the rest, a rambling, uncritical writer, whose reputation is in the inverse 
ratio of his merit, says, " Of what use, in a modern kingdom, would be a whole pro 
vince thus divided [in the old Roman manner, by small independent peasants], however 
well cultivated, except for the mere purpose of breeding men, which taken singly ia a 
most useless purpose ?" (Arthur Young : Political Arithmetic, &c. London, 1774, 
p. 47.) 

Very curious is " the strong inclination . . . to represent net wealth as beneficial to 
the labouring class .... though it is evidently not on account of being net." (Th, 
*u.j-kius, On Rent of Land, &c. London, 1823, p. 12G.) 

2 1 4 Capitalist Production, 



WE started with the supposition that labour-power is bought 
and sold at its value. Its value, like that of all other commo 
dities, is determined by the working time necessary to its 
production. If the production of the average daily means of 
subsistence of the labourer takes up 6 hours, he must work, on 
the average, 6 hours every day, to produce his daily labour- 
power, or to reproduce the value received as the result of its 
sale. The necessary part of his working day amounts to 6 
hours, and is, therefore, cceteris paribus, a given quantity. But 
with this, the extent of the working day itself is not yet 

Let us assume that the line A B represents the length of the 
necessary working time, say 6 hours. If the labour be pro 
longed 1, 3, or 6 hours beyond A B, we have 3 other lines ; 

Working day I. Working day II. Working day IIL 

A B 0. A B C. A B C. 

representing 3 different working days of 7, 9, and 12 hours. 
The extension B C of the line A B represents the length of 
the surplus labour. As the working day is A B+B G or 
A C, it varies with the variable quantity B G. Since A B 
is constant, the ratio of B C to A B can always be calculated. 
In working day I. it is J, in working day II, -J in working day 
111,4 of A B. Since, further, the ratio deter- 

mines the rate of the surplus-value, the latter is given by the 
ratio of B to A B. It amounts in the 3 different working 
days respectively to 16 J, 50 and 100 per cent. On the -other 
hand, the rate of surplus- value alone would not give us the 
extent of the working day. If this rate, e.g., were 100 per 
cent., the working day might be of 8, 10, 12, or more hours. 
It would indicate that the 2 constituent parts of the working 

77/6 Working Day. 215 

day, necessary-labour and surplus-labour time, were equal in ex 
tent, but not how long each of these two constituent parts was. 

The working day is thus not a constant, but a variable 
quantity. One of its parts, certainly, is determined by the 
working time required for the reproduction of the labour- 
power of the labourer himself. But its total amount varies 
with the duration of the surplus-labour. The working day is, 
therefore, determinable, but is, per se, indeterminate. l 

Although the working day is not a fixed, but a fluent 
quantity, it can, on the other hand, only vary within certain 
limits. The minimum limit is, however, not determinable ; 
of course, if we make the extension line BC or the surplus- 
labour = 0, we have a minimum limit, i.e., the part of the day 
which the labourer must necessarily work for his own main 
tenance. On the basis of capitalist production, however, this 
necessary labour can form a part only of the working day ; the 
working day itself can never be reduced to this minimum. On 
the other hand, the working day has a maximum limit. It 
cannot be prolonged beyond a certain point. This maximum 
limit is conditioned by two things. First, by the physical 
bounds of labour-power. Within the 24 hours of the natural day 
a man can expend only a definite quantity of his vital force. A 
horse, in like manner, can only work from day to day, 8 hours. 
During part of the day this force must rest, sleep ; during 
another part the man has to satisfy other physical needs, to 
i eed, wash, and clothe himself. Besides these purely physical 
limitations, the extension of the working day encounters 
moral ones. The labourer needs time for satisfying his intellec 
tual and social wants, the extent and number of which are 
conditioned by the general state of social advancement. The 
variation of the working day fluctuates, therefore, within 
physical and social bounds. But both these limiting conditions 
are of a very elastic nature, and allow the greatest latitude. 
So we find working days of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, ie. t of 
the most different lengths. 

The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate. 

1 "A day s labour is vague, it may be long or short." ("An essay on Trade and 
Commerce, containing observations on taxes," &c. London, 1770, p. 73.) 

2 1 6 Capitalist Production. 

To him its use- value belongs during one working day. He 
has thus acquired the right to make the labourer work for him 
during one day. But, what is a working day ? 

At all events, less than a natural day. By how much ? 
The capitalist has his own views of this ultima Thule, the 
necessary limit of the working day. As capitalist, he is only 
capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital But 
capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create 
value and surplus- value, to make its constant factor, the means 
of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus- 
labour. * 

Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by 
sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it 
sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time 
during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has 
purchased of him. * 

If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he 
robs the capitalist. 

The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the ex 
change of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get 
the greatest possible benefit out of the use-value of his commo 
dity. Suddenly the voice of the labourer, which had been 
stifled in the storm and stress of the process of production, 
rises : 

The commodity that I have sold to you differs from the 
crowd of other commodities, in that its use creates value, and 

1 This question is far more important than the celebrated question of Sir Robert 
Peel to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce : What is a pound? A question 
that could only have been proposed, because Peel was as much in the dark as to the 
nature of money as the " little shilling men " of Birmingham. 

2 It is the aim of the capitalist to obtain with his expended capital the greatest 
possible quantity of labour (d obtenir du capital depense la plus forte somme de 
travail possible.) J. G. Courcelle-Seneuil. Traite theorique et pratique des entre- 
prises industrielles. 2nd ed. Paris, 1857, p. 63. 

3 " An hour s labour lost in a day is a prodigious injury to a commercial State. 
. . . There is a very great consumption of luxuries among the labouring poor of this 
kingdom : particularly among the manufacturing populace, by which they also 
consume their time, the most fatal of consumptions." An Essay on Trade and 
Commerce, &c., p. 47 and 153. 

4 "Si le manouvrier libre prend un instant de repos,l economie sordidequi le suit 
des yeux avec inquietude, pretend qu il la vole. N. Linguet. "Theorie des loix 
civiles, &c. London, 1767," t. II. , p. 466. 

The Working Day. 217 

a value greater than its own. That is why you bought it. 
That which on your side appears a spontaneous expansion of 
capital, is on mine extra expenditure of labour- power. You 
and I know on the market only one law, that of the exchange 
of commodities. And the consumption of the commodity 
belongs not to the seller who parts with it, but to the buyer, 
who acquires it. To you, therefore, belongs the use of my 
daily labour-power. But by means of the price that you pay 
for it each day, I must be able to reproduce it daily, and to 
sell it again. Apart from natural exhaustion through age, &c., 
I must be able on the morrow to work with the same normal 
amount of force, health and freshness as to-day. You preach 
to me constantly the gospel of "saving" and "abstinence." 
Good ! I will, like a sensible saving owner, husband my sole 
wealth, labour-power, and abstain from all foolish waste of it. 
I will each day spend, set in motion, put into action only as 
much of it as is compatible with its normal duration, and 
healthy development. By an unlimited extension of the 
working day, you may in one day use up a quantity of labour- 
power greater than I can restore in three. What you gain in 
labour I lose in substance. The use of my labour-power and 
the spoliation of it are quite different things. If the average 
time that (doing a reasonable amount of work) an average 
labourer can live, is 30 years, the value of my labour-power, 
which you pay me from day to day is ^^ or -~ -- of its total 
value. But if you consume it in 10 years, you pay me daily 
To -J- 5 - instead of -~ of its total value, i.e., only J of its daily 
value, and you rob me, therefore, every day of f of the value of 
my commodity. You pay me for one day s labour-power f 
whilst you use that of 3 days. That is against our contract 
and the law of exchanges. I demand, therefore, a working 
day of normal length, and I demand it without any appeal to 
your heart, for in money matters sentiment is out of place. 
You may be a model citizen, perhaps a member of the 
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in the 
odour of sanctity to boot; but the thing that you represent face 
to face with me has no heart in its breast. That which seems 
to throb there is my own heart-beating. I demand the normal 

2i8 Capitalist Production. 

working day because I, like every other seller, demand the 
value of my commodity. 1 

We see then, that, apart from extremely elastic bounds, the 
nature of the exchange of commodities itself imposes no limit to 
the working day, no limit to surplus-labour. The capitalist main 
tains his rights as a purchaser when he tries to make the work 
ing day as long as possible, and to make, whenever possible, twa 
working days out of one. On the other hand, the peculiar 
nature of the commodity sold implies a limit to its consump 
tion by the purchaser, and the labourer maintains his right 
as seller when he wishes to reduce the working day to one of 
definite normal duration. There is here, therefore, an anti 
nomy, right against right, both equally bearing the seal of the 
law of exchanges. Between equal rights force decides. Hence 
is it that in the history of capitalist production, the determin 
ation of what is a working day, presents itself as the result of 
a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the class of 
capitalists, and collective labour, i.e., the working class. 


Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part 
of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the 
labourer, free or not free, must add to the working time 
necessary for his own maintenance an extra working time in 
order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the 
means of production, 2 whether this proprietor be the Athenian 
** xayatos, Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus, Norman baron, 
American slave owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or 
capitalist. 8 It is, however, clear that in any given economic 

1 During the great strike of the London builders, 1860-61, for the reduction of the 
working day to 9 hours, their Committee published a manifesto that contained, to 
gome extent, the plea of our worker. The manifesto alludes, not without irony, to 
the fact, that the greatest profit-monger amongst the building masters, a certaiu- 
Sir M. Peto, was in the odour of sanctity. (This same Peto, after 1867, came to an 
end a la Strousberg.) 

* " Those who labour .... in reality feed both the pensioners . . . [called 
the rich] and themselves." (Edmund Burke, 1. c., p. 2.) 

8 Niebuhr in his " Roman History " says very naively : "It is evident that works 
like the Etruscan, which, in their ruins astound us, presuppose in little (!) states lords 
and vassals." Sismondi says far more to the purpose that " Brussels lace" pre 
supposes wage-lords and wage-slaves. 

The Working Day. 219 

formation of society, where not the exchange -value but the 
use-value of the product predominates, surplus-labour will be 
limited by a given set of wants which may be greater or less, 
and that here no boundless thirst for surplus-labour arises from 
the nature of the production itself. Hence in antiquity over 
work becomes horrible only when the object is to obtain ex 
change-value in its specific independent money-form ; in the 
production of gold and silver. Compulsory working to death 
is here the recognised form of over- work. Only read Diodorus 
Siculus. 1 Still these are exceptions in antiquity. But as soon 
as people, whose production still moves within the lower forms 
of slave-labour, corvee-labour, &c., are drawn into the whirlpool 
of an international market dominated by the capitalistic mode 
of production, the sale of their products for export becoming 
their principal interest, the civilized horrors of over-work are 
grafted on the barbaric horrors of slavery, serfdom, &c. Hence 
the negro labour in the Southern States of the American Union 


preserved something of a patriarchal character, so long as pro 
duction was chiefly directed to immediate local consumption. 
But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of vital 
interest to these states, the over- working of the negro and some 
times the using up of his life in 7 years of labour became a 
factor in a calculated and calculating system. It was no longer 
a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful 
products. It was now a question of production of surplus- 
labour itself. So was it also with the corvee, e.g., in the 
Danubian Principalities (now Roumania). 

The comparison of the greed for surplus-labour in the 
Danubian Principalities with the same greed in English factories 
has a special interest, because surplus-labour in the corvee has 
an independent and palpable form. 

Suppose the working day consists of 6 hours of necessary 
labour, and 6 hours of surplus-labour. Then the free labourer 

1 " One cannot see these unfortunates (in the gold mines between Egypt, Ethiopia, 
and Arabia) who cannot even have their bodies clean, or their nakedness clothed, 
without pitying their miserable lot. There is no indulgence, no forbearance for the 
sick, the feeble, the aged, for woman s weakness. All must, forced by blows, work 
on until death puts an end to their sufferings and their distress." (" Diod. Sic. Bibl. 
Hist.," lib. 3, c. 13.) 

22O Capitalist Production. 

gives the capitalist every week 6 x 6 or 36 hours of surplus- 
labour. It is the same as if he worked 3 days in the week for 
himself, and 3 days in the week gratis for the capitalist. But 
this is not evident on the surface. Surplus-labour and necessary 
labour glide one into the other. I can, therefore, express the 
same relationship by saying, e.g., that the labourer in every 
minute works 30 seconds for himself, and 30 for the capitalist, 
etc. It is otherwise with the corve e. The necessary labour 
which the Wallachian peasant does for his own maintenance is 
distinctly marked oft from his surplus-labour on behalf of the 
Boyard. The one he does on his own field, the other on the 
seignorial estata Both parts of the labour-time exist, there 
fore, independently, side by side one with the other. In the 
corve e the surplus-labour is accurately marked off from the 
necessary labour. This, however, can make no difference with 
regard to the quantitative relation of surplus-labour to necessary 
labour. Three days surplus-labour in the week remain three 
days that yield no equivalent to the labourer himself, whether 
it be called corve e or wage-labour. But in the capitalist the 
greed for surplus-labour appears in the straining after an un 
limited extension of the working day, in the Boyard more 
simply in a direct hunting after days of corve e. 1 

In the Danubian Principalities the corve e was mixed up with 
rents in kind and other appurtenances of bondage, but it formed 
the most important tribute paid to the ruling class. Where 
this was the case, the corve e rarely arose from serfdom ; serfdom 
much more frequently on the other hand took origin from the 
corve e. 8 This is what took place in the Roumanian provinces. 

1 That which follows refers to the situation in the Roumanian provinces before the 
change effected since the Crimean war. 

2 This holds likewise for Germany, and especially for Prussia east of the Elbe. In 
the 15th century the German peasant was nearly everywhere a man, who, whilst 
subject to certain rents paid in produce and labour was otherwise at least 
practically free. The German colonists in Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, and 
Eastern Prussia, were even legally acknowledged as free men. The victory of the 
nobility in the peasants war put an end to that. Not only were the conquered South 
German peasants again enslaved. From the middle of the 16th century the peasants 
of Eastern Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, and Silesia, and soon after the free 
peasants of Schleswig-Holstein were degraded to the condition of serfs. (Maurer, 
Fronhofe iv. vol., Meitzen, der Boden des preussischen Staats. Harisen, 
Leibeigenschaft in Schleswig-Holstein. ED.) 

The Working Day. 2 2 i 

Their original mode of production was based on community of 
the soil, but not in the Slavonic or Indian form. Part of the 
land was cultivated in severalty as freehold by the members of 
the community, another part ager publicus was cultivated 
by them in common. The products of this common labour 
served partly as a reserve fund against bad harvests and other 
accidents, partly as a public store for providing the costs of 
war, religion, and other common expenses. In course of time 
military and clerical dignitaries usurped, along with the com 
mon land, the labour spent upon it. The labour of the free 
peasants on their common land was transformed into corve e for 
the thieves of the common land. This corvee soon developed 
into a servile relationship existing in point of fact, not in point 
of law, until Russia, the liberator of the world, made it legal 
under pretence of abolishing serfdom. The code of the corve e, 
which the Russian General Kisseleff proclaimed in 1831, was of 
course dictated by the Boyards themselves. Thus Russia con 
quered with one blow the magnates of the Danubian provinces, 
and the applause of liberal cre tins throughout Europe. 

According to the " R^glement organique," as this code of the 
corve e is called, every Wallachian peasant owes to the so-called 
landlord, besides a mass of detailed payments in kind: (1), 12 
days of general labour ; (2), one day of field labour ; (3), one 
day of wood carrying. In all, 14 days in the year. With deep 
insight into political economy, however, the working day is not 
taken in its ordinary sense, but as the working day necessary 
to the production of an average daily product ; and that average 
daily product is determined in so crafty a way that no Cyclops 
would be done with it in 24 hours. In dry words, the Regle- 
ment itself declares with true Russian irony that by 12 working 
days one must understand the product of the manual labour of 
36 days, by 1 day of field labour 3 days, and by 1 day of wood 
carrying in like manner three times as much. In all, 42 
corve e days. To this had to be added the so-called jobagie, 
service due to the lord for extraordinary occasions. In propor 
tion to the size of its population, every village has to furnish 
annually a definite contingent to the jobagie. This additional 
corvee is estimated at 14 days for each Wallachian peasant 

222 Capitalist Production. 

Thus the prescribed corvee amounts to 56 working days yearly, 
But the agricultural year in Wallachia numbers in consequence 
of the severe climate only 210 days, of which 40 for Sundays 
and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather, together 70 
days, do not count. 1-iO working days remain. The ratio of 
the corve e to the necessary labour j or 66 f / gives a much 
smaller rate of surplus-value than that which regulates the 
labour of the English agricultural or factory labourer. This 
is, however, only the legally prescribed corve e. And in a spirit 
yet more " liberal " than the English Factory Acts, the " Regle- 
inent organique " has known how to facilitate its own evasion. 
After it has made 56 days out of 12, the nominal days work of 
each of the 56 corvee days is again so arranged that a portion 
of it must fall on the ensuing day. In one day, e.g., must be 
weeded an extent of land, which, for this work, especially in 
maize plantations, needs twice as much time. The legal day s 
work for some kinds of agricultural labour is interpretable in 
such a way that the day begins in May and ends in October. 
In Moldavia conditions are still harder. " The 12 corvee days 
of the Re glernent organique cried a Boyard drunk with 
victory, amount to 365 days in the year." 1 

If the Re glement organique of the Danubian provinces was 
a positive expression of the greed for surplus-labour which 
every paragraph legalised, the English Factory Acts are the 
negative expression of the same greed. These acts curb the 
passion of capital for a limitless draining of labour-power, by 
forcibly limiting the working day by state regulations, made 
by a state that is ruled by capitalist and landlord. Apart from 
the working-class movement that daily grew more threatening, 
the limiting of factory labour was dictated by the same necessity 
which spread guano over the English fields. The same blind 
eagerness for plunder that in the one case exhausted the soil, 
had, in the other, torn up by the roots the living force of the 
nation. Periodical epidemics speak on this point as clearly as 
the diminishing military standard in Germany and France. 2 

1 Further details are to be found in E. Regnault s " Histoire politique et sociale des 
Principautes Danubieunes Pads, 1855 

2 " In general and within certain limits, exceeding the medium size of their kind, is 
evidence of the prosperity of organic beings. As to man, his bodily height lessens if 

The Working Day. 223 

The Factory Act of 1850 now in force (1867) allows for the 
average working-day 10 hours, i.e., for the first 5 days 12 hours 
from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., including \ an hour for breakfast, and 
an hour for dinner, and thus leaving 10J working hours, and 
8 hours for Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., of which \ an hour 
is subtracted for breakfast. 60 working hours are left, 10J for 
each of the first 5 days, 7J for the last. 1 Certain guardians of 
these laws are appointed, Factory Inspectors, directly under the 
Home Secretary, whose reports are published half-yearly, by 
order of Parliament. They give regular and official statistics of 
the capitalistic greed for surplus-labour. 

Let us listen, for a moment, to the Factory Inspectors. 1 
" The fraudulent millowner begins work a quarter of an hour 
(sometimes more, sometimes less) before 6 a.m., and leaves off 
a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 
6 p.m. He takes 5 minutes from the beginning and from the 

Lis due growth is interfered with, either by physical or social conditions. In all 
European countries in which the conscription holds, since its introduction, the medium 
height of adult men, and generally their fitness for military service, has diminished. 
Before the revolution (1789), the minimum for the infantry in France was 165 centi 
metres ; in 1818 (law of March 10th), 157 ; by the law of 1852, 156 c.m. ; on the 
average in France more than half are rejected on account of deficient height or bodily 
weakness. The military standard in Saxony was in 1780, 178 c.m. It is now 155. 
In Prussia it is 157. According to the statement of Dr. Meyer in the Bavarian 
Gazette, May 9th, 1862, the result of an average of 9 years is, that in Prussia out of 
1000 conscripts 716 were unfit for military service, 317 because of deficiency in height, 
and 399 because of bodily defects. . . . Berlin in 1858 could not provide its con 
tingent of recruits ; it was 156 men short." J. von Liebig: "Die Chemie in ihrer 
Anwendung auf Agrikultur und Physiologie, 1863," 7th Ed., vol. 1., pp. 117, 118. 

1 The history of the Factory Act of 1850 will be found in the course of this chapter. 

- I only touch here and there on the period from the beginning of modern industry 
in England to 1845. For this period I refer the reader to " Die Lage der arbci- 
tenden Klasse in England, von Friediich Engels, Leipzig, 1845." How completely 
Engels understood the nature of the capitalist mode of production is shown by the 
Factory Reports, Reports on Mines, &c., that have appeared since 1845, and how 
wonderfully he painted the circumstances in detail is seen on the most superficial 
comparison of his work with the official reports of the Children s Employment Com 
mission, published 18 to 20 years later (1863-1867). r J hese deal especially with the 
branches of industry in which the Factory Acts had not, up to 1862, been introduced, 
in fact are not yet introduced. Here, then, little or no alteration had been enforced, 
by authority, in the conditions painted by Engels. I borrow my examples chiefly 
from the free trade period after 1848, that age of paradise, of which the commercial 
travellers for the great firm of free trade, blatant as ignorant, tell such fal ulous tales. 
For the rest England figures here in the foreground because she is the classic repre 
sentative of capitalist production, and she alone has a continuous set of official 
statistics of the things we are considering. 

224 Capitalist Production. 

end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 
minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally allowed 
for dinner. He works for a quarter of an hour (sometimes 
more, sometimes less) after 2 p.m. on Saturday. Thus his gain 


Before 6 a.m.,... ... ... 15 minutes. 

After 6 p.m., ... ... ... 15 

At breakfast time, ... ... 10 

At dinner time, ... ... 20 


Five days 300 minutes. 

On Saturday before 6 a.m. ... 15 minutes. 

At breakfast time, ... ... 10 

After 2 p.m., ... ... ... 15 

40 minutes. 
Total weekly, ... ... 340 minutes. 

Or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 
working weeks in the year (allowing two for holidays and 
occasional stoppages) is equal to 27 working days." 1 

" Five minutes a day s increased work, multiplied by weeks, 
are equal to two and a half days of produce in the year." 3 

" An additional hour a day gained by small instalments before 
6 a.m., after 6 p.m., and at the beginning and end of the times 
nominally fixed for meals, is nearly equivalent to working 13 
months in the year." 3 

Crises during which production is interrupted and the fac 
tories work " short time," i.e., for only a part of the week, 
naturally do not affect the tendency to extend the working 
day. The less business there is, the more profit has to be made 
on the business done. The less time spent in work, the more 
of that time has to be turned into surplus labour-time. 

1 Suggestions, &c. by Mr. L. Homer, Inspector of Factories, in : Factory Regula 
tions Act. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 9th August, 1859, f . 

- Reports of the Inspector of Factories for the half year, October, 1856, p. 35. 

Reports, &c., 30th April, 185S, p. 9. 

The Working Day. 225 

Thus the Factory Inspector s report on the period of the 
crisis from 1857 to 1858 : 

" It may seem inconsistent that there should be any over 
working at a time when trade is so bad ; but that very bad 
ness leads to the transgression by unscrupulous men, they get 

the extra profit of it In the last half year, says Leonard 

Horner, 122 mills in my district have been given up ; 143 were 
found standing," yet, overwork is continued beyond the legal 
hours. 1 

" For a great part of the time," says Mr. Howell, "owing to the 
depression of trade, many factories were altogether closed, and a 
still greater number were working short time. I continue, how 
ever, to receive about the usual number of complaints that half, 
or three-quarters of an hour in the day, are snatched from the 
workers by encroaching upon the times professedly allowed for 
rest and refreshment." 8 The same phenomenon was reproduced 
on a smaller scale during the frightful cotton-crisis from 1861 
to 1865. 3 "It is sometimes advanced by way of excuse, when 
persons are found at work in a factory, either at a meal hour, 
or at some illegal time, that they will not leave the mill at the 
appointed hour, and that compulsion is necessary to force them 
to cease work [cleaning their machinery, &c.], especially on 
Saturday afternoons. But, if the hands remain in a factory 
after the machinery has ceased to revolve . . . they would not 
have been so employed if sufficient time had been set apart 
specially for cleaning, &c., either before 6 a.m. [sic/] or before 
2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons/ 4 

1 Reports, &c., 1. c., p. 43. 

9 Reports, <fcc., 1. o., p. 25. 

1 Reports, &c. for the half year ending 30th April, 1861. See Appendix No. 2; Re 
ports, &c., 31st October, 1862, p. 7, 52, 53. The violations of the Acts became more 
numerous during the last half year 1863. Of. Reports, &c., ending 31st October, 
1863, p. 7. 

4 Reports, &c., October 31st, 1860, p. 23. With what fanaticism, according to the 
evidence of manufacturers given in courts of law, their hands set themselves against 
every interruption in factory labour, the following curious circumstance shows. In the 
beginning of June, 1836, information reached the magistrates of Dewsbury (York 
shire) that the owners of 8 large mills in the neighbourhood of Batley had violated the 
Factory Acts. Some of these gentlemen were accused of having kept at work 5 boys 
between 12 and 15 years of age, from 6 a.m. on Friday to 4 p.m. on the following 
Saturday, not. allowing them any respite except for meals and one hour for sleep at 
midnight. And these children had to do this ceaseless labour of 30 hours in the 


226 Capitalist Production. 

" The profit to be gained by it (over-working in violation of 
the Act) appears to be, to many, a greater temptation than they 
can resist ; they calculate upon the chance of not being found 
out ; and when they see the small amount of penalty and costs, 
which those who have been convicted have had to pay, they 
find that if they should be detected there will still be a con 
siderable balance of gain. . . .* In cases where the additional 
time is gained by a multiplication of small thefts in the course 
of the day, there are insuperable difficulties to the inspectors 
making out a case." 3 

These " small thefts" of capital from the labourer s meal and 
recreation time, the factory inspectors also designate as " petty 
pilferings of minutes," 3 " snatching a few minutes/ 4 or, as the 
labourers technically called them, " nibbling and cribbling at 
meal times." * 

It is evident that in this atmosphere the formation of surplus- 
value by surplus-labour, is no secret. " If you allow me," said 
a highly respectable master to me, " to work only ten minutes 
in the day over-time, you put one thousand a year in my 
pocket."* "Moments are the elements of profit." 7 

Nothing is from this point of view more characteristic than 
the designation of the workers who work full time as " full- 
timers," and the children under 13 who are only allowed to 
work 6 hours as " half-timers." The worker is here nothing 
more than personified labour-time. All individual distinctions 
are merged in those of "full-timers >:> and " half-timers. * 8 

" shoddy-hole," as the hole is called, in which the woollen rags are pulled in pieces, 
and where a dense atmosphere of dust, shreds, &c., forces even the adult workman to 
cover his mouth continually with handkerchiefs for the protection of his lungs ! The 
accused gentlemen affirm in lieu of taking an oath as quakers they were too scrupu 
lously religious to take an oath that they had, in their great compassion for the 
unhappy children, allowed them four hours for sleep, but the obstinate children 
absolutely would not go to bed. The quaker gentlemen were mulcted in 20. Dry- 
den anticipated these gentry : 

" Fox full fraught in seeming sanctity, 
That feared an oath, but like the devil would lie, 
That look d like Lent, and had the holy leer, 
And durst not sin ! before he said his prayer ! " 

* Rep., 31st Oct., 1856, p. 34. 1. c., p. 48. 1. c., p. 48. 
i. Cj p. 35. 1. c., p. 48. 1. c., p. 48. 

* Report of the Insp. &c., 30th April, 1860, p. 56. 

* This is the official expression both in the factories and in the reports. 

The Working Day. 227 



We have hitherto considered the tendency to the extension of 
the working day, the were-wolf s hunger for surplus-labour in 
a department where the monstrous exactions, not surpassed, 
says an English bourgeois economist, by the cruelties of the 
Spaniards to the American red-skins, 1 caused capital at last to 
be bound by the chains of legal regulations. Now, let us cast 
a glance at certain branches of production in which the exploita 
tion of labour is either free from fetters to this day, or was so 
yesterdaj r . 

Mr. Broughton Charlton, county magistrate, declared, as 
chairman of a meeting held at the Assembly Rooms, Nottingham, 
on the 14th January, 1860, "that there was an amount of 
privation and suffering among that portion of the population 
connected with the lace trade, unknown in other parts of the 
kingdom, indeed, in the civilized world . . . Children of 
nine or ten years are dragged from their squalid beds at two, 
three, or four o clock in the morning and compelled to work for 
a bare subsistence until ten, eleven, or twelve at night, their 
limbs wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faces whiten 
ing, and their humanity absolutely sinking into a stone-like 

torpor, utterly horrible to contemplate We are rot 

surprised that Mr. Mallett, or any other manufacturer, should 

stand forward and protest against discussion The 

system, as the Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of 
unmitigated slavery, socially, physically, morally, and spiritually. 
.... What can be thought of a town which holds a public 
meeting to petition that the period of labour for men shall be 

diminished to eighteen hours a day ? We declaim 

against the Virginian and Carolinian cotton-planters. Is their 

1 " The cupidity of mill-owner* whose cruelties in the pursuit of gain have hardly 
been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards on the conquest of America in 
the pursuit of gold." John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd 
Ed. London, 1835, p. 114. The theoretical part of this book, a kind of hand-book of 
Political Economy, is, considering the time of its publication, original in some parts, 
t.g., on commercial crises. The historical part is, to a great extent, a shameless 
plagiarism of Sir F. M. Eden s "History of the Poor," London, 1799. 

228 Capitalist Production. 

black-market, their lash, and their barter of human flesh more 
detestable than this slow sacrifice of humanity which takes 
place in order that veils and collars may be fabricated for the 
benefit of capitalists ? " * 

The potteries of Staffordshire have, during the last 22 years, 
been the subject of three parliamentary inquiries. The result is 
embodied in Mr. Scriven s Report of 1841 to the "Children s 
Employment Commissioners," in the report of Dr. Greenhow 
of 1860 published by order of the medical officer of the Privy 
Council (Public Health, 3rd Report, 112-113), lastly, in the 
report of Mr. Longe of 1862 in the "First Report of the 
Children s Employment Commission, of the 13th June, 1863." 
For my purpose it is enough to take, from the reports of 1860 
and 1863, some depositions of the exploited children themselves. 
From the children we may form an opinion as to the adults, 
especially the girls and women, and that in a branch of industry 
by the side of which cotton-spinning appears an agreeable and 
healthful occupation. 

William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when 
he began to work. He " ran moulds " (carried ready-moulded 
articles into the drying room, afterwards bringing back the 
empty mould) from the beginning. He came to work every day 
in the week at 6 a.m., and left off about 9 p.m. " I work till 
9 o clock at night six days in the week. I have done so seven 
or eight weeks." Fifteen hours of labour for a child 7 years 
old ! J. Murray, 12 years of age, says : " I turn jigger, and run 
moulds. I come at 6. Sometimes I come at 4. I worked all 
night last night, till 6 o clock this morning. I have not been 
in bed since the night before last. There were eight or nine 
other boys working last night. All but one have come this 
morning. I get 3 shillings and sixpence. I do not get any more 
for working at night. I worked two nights last week." Ferny- 
hough, a boy of ten : " I have not always an hour (for dinner). 
I have only half an hour sometimes ; on Thursday, Friday, and 
Saturday." 3 

1 " Daily Telegraph," 17th January, 1860. 

a Of. F. Engels Lage, etc., p. 249-51. 

8 Children s Employment Commission. First report, etc., 1863. Evidence, p. 16,. 

V, 18. 

The Working Day. 229 

Dr, Greenhow states that the average duration of life in the 
pottery districts of Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolstanton is ex 
traordinarily short. Although in the district of Stoke, only 
36 6% and in Wolstanton only 304% of the adult male 
population above 20 are employed in the potteries, among the 
men of that age in the first district more than half, in the 
second, nearly \ of the whole deaths are the result of pulmonary 
diseases among the potters. Dr. Boothroyd, a medical practitioner 
at Hanley, says : " Each successive generation of potters is more 
dwarfed and less robust than the preceding one." In like 
manner another doctor, Mr. M Bean: "Since he began to practise 
among the potters 25 years ago, he had observed a marked 
degeneration especially shown in diminution of stature and 
breadth." These statements are taken from the report of Dr. 
Greenhow in 1860. 

From the report of the Commissioners in 1863, the following: 
Dr. J. T. Arledge, senior physician of the North Staffordshire 
Infirmary, says : " The potters as a class, both men and women, 
represent a degenerated population, both physically and morally. 
They are, as a rule, stunted in growth, ill-shaped, and frequently 
ill-formed in the chest ; they become prematurely old, and are 
certainly short-lived ; they are phlegmatic and bloodless, and 
exhibit their debility of constitution by obstinate attacks of 
dyspepsia, and disorders of the liver and kidneys, and by 
rheumatism. But of all diseases they are especially prone to 
chest-disease, to pneumonia, phthisis, bronchitis, and asthma. 
One form would appear peculiar to them, and is known as 
potter s asthma, or potter s consumption. Scrofula attacking 
the glands, or bones, or other parts of the body, is a disease of 

two-thirds or more of the potters That the degener- 

escence of the population of this district is not even greater 
than it is, is due to the constant recruiting from the adjacent 
country, and intermarriages with more healthy races." a 

Mr. Charles Parsons, late house surgeon of the same institution, 
writes in a letter to Commissioner Longe, amongst other things : 
I can only speak from personal observation and not from 

1 Public Health, 3rd report, etc., p. 102, 104, 105. 
s Child. Empl. Comm. I. Keport, p. 24. 

230 Capitalist Production. 

statistical data, but I do not hesitate to assert that my indigna 
tion has been aroused again and again at the sight of poor 
children whose health has been sacrificed to gratify the avarice 
of either parents or employers." He enumerates the causes 
of the diseases of the potters, and sums them up in the phrase, 
" long hours." The report of the Commission trusts that " a 
manufacture which has assumed so prominent a place in the 
whole world, will not long be subject to the remark that its 
great success is accompanied with the physical deterioration, 
wide-spread bodily suffering, and early death of the workpeople 
. . by whose labour and skill such great results have been 
achieved." * And all that holds of the potteries in England is- 
true of those in Scotland. 

The manufacture of lucifer matches dates from 1833, from 
the discovery of the method of applying phosphorus to the 
match itself. Since 1845 this manufacture has rapidly devel 
oped in England, and has extended especially amongst the 
thickly populated parts of London as well as in Manchester, 
Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Newcastle and Glas 
gow. With it has spread the form of lockjaw, which a Vienna 
physician in 1845 discovered to be a disease peculiar to 
lucifer-matchmakers. Half the workers are children under 
thirteen, and young persons under eighteen. The manufacture 
is on account of its unhealthiness and unpleasantness in such 
bad odour that only the most miserable part of the labouring 
class, half-starved widows and so forth, deliver up their 
children to it, " the ragged, half-starved, untaught children." 3 

Of the witnesses that Commissioner White examined (1863), 
270 were under 18, 50 under 10, 10 only 8, and 5 only 6 years 
old. A range of the working day from 12 to 14s or 15 hours, 
night-labour, irregular meal times, meals for the most part 
taken in the very workrooms that are pestilent with phos 
phorus. Dante would have found the worst horrors of his 
Inferno surpassed in this manufacture. 

In the manufacture of paper-hangings the coarser sorts are 
printed by machine ; the finer by hand (block-printing). The 

l Children s Employment Commission, p. 22, and xi. 
8 1. c. p. xlvii. 
3 I.e. p. liv. 

The Working Day. 231 

most active business months are from the beginning of October 
to the end of April During this time the work goes on fast 
and furious without intermission from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 
further into the night. 

J. Leach deposes : " Last winter six out of nineteen girls 
were away from ill-health at one time from over- work. I have 
to bawl at them to keep them awake." W. Duffy : " I have 
seen when the children could none of them keep their eyes 
open for the work; indeed, none of us could." J. Lightbourne: 
" Am 13 ... We worked last winter till 9 (evening), and the 
winter before till 10. I used to cry with sore feet every night 
last winter. G. Apsden : " That boy of mine . . . when he 
was 7 years old I used to carry him on my back to and fro 
through the snow, and he used to have 16 hours a day ... 1 
have often knelt down to feed him as he stood by the machine, 
for he could not leave it or stop." Smith, the managing 
partner of a Manchester factory : " We (he means his " hands 
who work for " us ") work on, with no stoppage for meals, so 
that the day s work of 10J hours is finished by 4.30. p.m., and 
all after that is overtime." 1 (Does this Mr. Smith take no 
meals himself during 10^ hours ? ) " We (this same Smith) sel 
dom leave off working before 6 p.m. (he means leave off the 
consumption of our labour-power machines), so that we 
(iterum Crispinus) are really working overtime the whole year 

round For all these, children and adults alike (152 

children and young persons and 140 adults), the average work 
for the last 18 months has been at the very least 7 days, 5 
hours, or 78i hours a week. For the six weeks ending May 
2nd this year (1862), the average was higher 8 days or 84 
hours a week." Still this same Mr. Smith, who is so extremely 
devoted to the pluralis majestatis, adds with a smile, " Machine 
work is not great." So the employers in the block-printing 

1 This is not to be taken in the same sense as our surplus-labour time. These 
gentlemen consider 10J hours of labour as the normal working day, which includes 
of course the normal surplus-labour. After this begins " overtime " which is paid a 
little better. It will be Been later that the labour expended during the so-called 
normal day is paid below its value, so that the overtime is simply a capitalist trick 
in order to extort more surplus-labour, which it would still be, eren if the labour- 
power expended during the normal working day were properly paid. 

232 Capitalist Production. 

say : Hand labour is more healthy than machine- work." On 
the whole, manufacturers declare with indignation against the 
proposal " to stop the machines at least during meal times. 
A clause, says Mr. Otley, manager of a wall-paper factory in 
the Borough, " which allowed work between, say 6 a.m. and 9 
p.m. . . . would suit us (!) very well, but the factory hours, 6 
a.m. to 6 p.m., are not suitable. Our machine is always 
stopped for dinner. (What generosity !) There is no waste 
of paper and colour to speak of. But," he adds sympatheti 
cally, "I can understand the loss of time not being liked. 
The report of the Commission opines with naivete" that the 
fear of some " leading firms of losing time, Le., the time for 
appropriating the labour of others, and thence losing profit 
is not a sufficient reason for allowing children under 13, and 
young persons under 18, working 12 to 16 hours per day, to 
lose their dinner, nor for giving it to them as coal and water 
are supplied to the steam-engine, soap to wool, oil to the 
wheel as merely auxiliary material to the instruments of 
labour, during the process of production itself. 1 

No branch of industry in England (we do not take into 
account the making of bread by machinery recently intro 
duced) has preserved up to the present day a method of pro 
duction so archaic, so as we see from the poets of the Roman 
Empire pre-christian, as baking. But capital, as was said 
earlier, is at first indifferent as to the technical character of the 
labour-process ; it begins by taking it just as it finds it. 

The incredible adulteration of bread, especially in London, 
was first revealed by the House of Commons Committee " on 
the adulteration of articles of food " (1855-56), and Dr. 
HassalTs work, " Adulterations detected." 2 The consequence 
of these revelations was the Act of August 6th, 1860, " for 
preventing the adulteration of articles of food and drink," an 
inoperative law, as it naturally shows the tenderest consider 
ation for every free-trader who determines by the buying or 
selling of adulterated commodities " to turn an honest penny." 

1 1. c. Evidence, p. 123, 124, 125, 140, and 54. 

2 Alum finely powdered, or mixed with salt, is a normal article of commerce bear 

the significant name of bakers stuff. " 

ot is a well-known and very energetic form of carbon, and forms a manure 

The Working Day. 233 

The Committee itself formulated more or less naively its con 
viction that free-trade meant essentially trade with adulter 
ated, or as the English ingeniously put it, " sophisticated" goods. 
In fact this kind of sophistry knows better than Protagoras 
how to make white black, and black white, and better than 
the Eleatics how to demonstrate ad oculos that everything is 
only appearance. 1 

At all events the committee had directed the attention of 
the public to its " daily bread," and therefore to the baking 
trade. At the same time in public meetings and in petitions 
to Parliament rose the cry of the London journeymen bakers 
against their over-work, &c. The cry was so urgent that Mr. 
H. S. Trernenheere, also a member of the Commission of 1863 
several times mentioned, was appointed Royal Commissioner 
of Inquiry. His report, 2 together with the evidence given, 
roused not the heart of the public but its stomach. English 
men, always well up in the Bible, knew well enough that man, 
unless by elective grace a capitalist, or landlord, or sinecurist, 
is commanded to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but 
they did not know that he had to eat daily in his bread a certain 
quantity of human perspiration mixed with the discharge of 
abcesses, cobwebs, dead black-beetles, and putrid German yeast, 
without counting alum, sand, and other agreeable mineral in 
gredients. Without any regard to his holiness, Freetrade, the 
free baking-trade was therefore placed under the supervision 

that capitalistic chimney-sweeps sell to English farmers. Now in 1862 the British 
juryman had in a law-suit to decide whether soot, with which, unknown to the buyer, 
90 % of dust and sand are mixed, is genuine soot in the commercial sense or adulter 
ated soot in the legal sense. The " amis du commerce " decided it to be genuine 
commercial soot, and non-suited the plaintiff farmer, vrho had in addition to pay the 
costs of the suit. 

1 The French chemist, Chevallier, in his treatise on the "sophistications" of 
commodities, enumerates for many of the 600 or more articles which he passes in 
review, 10, 20, 30 different methods of adulteration. He adds that he does not know 
all the methods, and does not mention all that he knows. He gives 6 kinds of 
adulteration of sugar, 9 of olive oil, 10 of butter, 12 of salt, 19 of milk, 20 of bread, 
23 of brandy, 24 of meal, 28 of chocolate, 30 of wine, 32 of coffee, etc. Even God 
Almighty does not escape this fate. See Konard de Card, on the falsifications of the 
materials of the Sacrament. (De la falsification des substances sacramentelles, 
Paris, 1856.) 

Report, &c., relating to the grievances complained of by the journeymen bakers, 
fee., London, 1862," and " Second Keport, &c., London, 1S63." 

234 Capitalist Production. 

of the State inspectors (Close of the Parliamentary session of 
1863), and by the same Act of Parliament, work from 9 in the 
evening to 5 in the morning was forbidden for journeymen 
bakers under 18. The last clause speaks volumes as to the 
over- work in this old-fashioned, homely line of business. 

" The work of a London journeyman baker begins, as a rule, 
at about eleven at night. At that hour he makes the dough/ 
a laborious process, which lasts from half-an-hour to three 
quarters of an hour, according to the size of the batch or the 
labour bestowed upon it. He then lies down upon the knead- 
ing-board, which is also the covering of the trough in which 
the dough is * made ; and with a sack under him, and another 
rolled up as a pillow, he sleeps for about a couple of hours. 
He is then engaged in a rapid and continuous labour for about 
five hours throwing out the dough, scaling it off/ moulding 
it, putting it into the oven, preparing and baking rolls and 
fancy bread, taking the batch bread out of the oven, and up 
into the shop, &c., &c. The temperature of a bakehouse ranges 
from about 75 to upwards of 90 degrees, and in the smaller 
bakehouses approximates usually to the higher rather than to 
the lower degree of heat. When the business of making the 
bread, rolls, &c., is over, that of its distribution begins, and a 
considerable proportion of the journeymen in the trade, after 
working hard in the manner described during the night, are 
upon their legs for many hours during the day, carrying baskets, 
or wheeling hand-carts, and sometimes again in the bakehouse, 
leaving off work at various hours between 1 and 6 p.m. 
according to the season of the year, or the amount and nature 
of their master s business ; while others are again engaged in 
the bakehouse in * bringing out more batches until late in the 
afternoon. 1 . . . During what is called the London season/ the 
operatives belonging to the full-priced bakers at the West 
End of the town, generally begin work at 11 p.m., and are en 
gaged in making the bread, with one or two short (sometimes 
very short) intervals of rest, up to 8 o clock the next morning. 
They are then engaged all day long, up to 4, 5, 6, and as late 
as 7 o clock in the evening carrying out bread, or sometimes in 

1. c. First Report, &c., p. vi. 

The Working Day. 235 

the afternoon in the bakehouse again, assisting in the biscuit- 
baking. They may have, after they have done their work, 
sometimes five or six, sometimes only four or five hours sleep 
before the} 7 " begin again. On Fridays they always begin 
sooner, some about ten o clock, and continue in some cases, at 
work, either in making or delivering the bread up to 8 p.m. on 
Saturday night, but more generally up to 4 or 5 o clock, 
Sunday morning. On Sundays the men must attend twice or 
three times during the day for an hour or two to make pre 
parations for the next day s bread The men employed 

by the underselling masters (who sell their bread under the 
full price, and who, as already pointed out, comprise three- 
fourths of the London bakers) have not only to work on the 
average longer hours, but their work is almost entirely confined 
to the bakehouse. The underselling masters generally sell their 
bread. ... in the shop. If they send it out, which is not common 
except as supplying chandlers shops, they usually employ other 
hands for that purpose. It is not their practice to deliver 

bread from house to house. Towards the end of the week 

the men begin on Thursday night at 10 o clock, and continue on 
with only slight intermission until late on Saturday evening." * 

Even the bourgeois intellect understands the position of the 
" underselling " masters. " The unpaid labour of the men was 
made the source whereby the competition was carried on." 2 
And the " full-priced " baker denounces his underselling com 
petitors to the Commission of Inquiry as thieves of foreign 
labour and adulterators. "They only exist now by first de 
frauding the public, and next getting 18 hours work out of 
their men for 12 hours wages." 8 

The adulteration of bread and the formation of a class of 
bakers that sells the bread below the full price, date from the 
beginning of the 18th century, from the time when the 
corporate character of the trade was lost, and the capitalist in 
the form of the miller or flour-factor, rises behind the nominal 
master baker. 4 Thus was laid the foundation of capitalistic 

1 1. c. p. Ixxi. 2 George Read, The History of Baking, London, 1848, p. 16, 

3 Report (First) &c. Evidence of the "full-priced " baker Cheeseman, p. 108. 

4 George Read, 1. c. At the end of the!7tb and the beginning of the 18th centuries 
the factors (agents) that crowded into every possible trade were still denounced as 

236 Capitalist Production. 

production in this trade, of the unlimited extension of the 
working day and of night labour, although the latter only 
eince 1824 gained a serious footing, even in London. 1 

After what has just been said, it will be understood that the 
Report of the Commission classes journeymen bakers among 
the short-lived labourers, who, having by good luck escaped the 
normal decimation of the children of the working-class, rarely 
reach the age of 42. Nevertheless, the baking trade is always 
overwhelmed with applicants. The sources of the supply of 
these labour-powers oo London are Scotland, the western agri 
cultural districts of England, and Germany. 

In the years 1858-60, the journeymen bakers in Ireland 
organised at their own expense great meetings to agitate 
against night and Sunday work. The public e.g., at the 
Dublin meeting in May, 1860 took their part with Irish 
warmth. As result of this movement, day labour alone was 
successfully established in Wexf ord, Kilkenny, Clomnel, Water- 
ford, &c. " In Limerick, where the grievances of the journey 
men are demonstrated to be excessive, the movement has been 
defeated by the opposition of the master bakers, the miller 
bakers being the greatest opponents. The example of Limerick 
led to a retrogression in Ennis and Tipperary. In Cork, where 
the strongest possible demonstration of feeling took place, the 
masters, by exercising their power of turning the men out of 
employment, have defeated the movement. In Dublin, the 
master bakers have offered the most determined opposition to 
the movement, and by discountenancing as much as possible 
the journeymen promoting it, have succeeded in leading the 
men into acquiescence in Sunday work and night work, con 
trary to the convictions of the men/ 3 

The Committee of the English Government, which Govern 
ment, in Ireland, is armed to the teeth, and generally knows 
how to show it, remonstrates in mild, though funereal, tones 

" public nuisances." Thus the Grand Jury at the quarter session of the Justices of 
the Peace for the County of Somerset, addressed a presentment to the Lower House 
which, among other things, states, " that these factors of Blackwell Hall are a Public 
Nuisance and Prejudice to the Clothing Trade, and ought to be put down as a 
Nuisance." The case of our English Wool, &c., London, 1685, p. 6, 7. 

1 First Report, &c. 

2 Report of Committee on the Baking Trade in Ireland for 18*51. 

The Working Day. 237 

with the implacable master bakers of Dublin, Limerick, Cork, 
&c. : The Committee believe that the hours of labour are 
limited by natural laws, which cannot be violated with im 
punity. That for master bakers to induce their workmen, by 
the fear of losing employment, to violate their religious con 
victions and their better feelings, to disobey the laws of the 
land, and to disregard public opinion (this all refers to Sunday 
labour), is calculated to provoke ill-feeling between workmen 
and masters, . . . and affords an example dangerous to religion, 
morality, and social order. . . . The Committee believe that 
any constant work beyond 12 hours a-day encroaches on the 
domestic and private life of the working man, and so leads tc 
disastrous moral results, interfering with each man s home, and 
the discharge of his family duties as a son, a brother, a husband, 
a father. That work beyond 12 hours has a tendency to 
undermine the health of the working man, and so leads to 
premature old age and death, to the great injury of families of 
working men, thus deprived of the care and support of the 
head of the family when most required." 1 

So far, we have dealt with Ireland. On the other side of 
the channel, in Scotland, the agricultural labourer, the plough 
man, protests against his 13-14 hours work in the most in 
clement climate, with 4 hours additional work on Sunday (in 
this land of Sabbatarians !), 8 whilst, at the same time, three 
railway men are standing before a London coroner s jury a 
guard, an engine-driver, a signalman. A tremendous railway 
accident has hurried hundreds of passengers into another 
world. The negligence of the employe s is the cause of the 

n. c. 

2 Public meeting of agricultural labourers at Lasswade, near Edinburgh, January 
5th, 1866. (See "Workman s Advocate," January 13th, 1866.) The formation 
since the close of 1865 of a Trades Union among the agricultural labourers at first in 
Scotland is a historic event. In one of the most oppressed agricultural districts of 
England, Buckinghamshire, the labourers, in March, 1867, made a great strike for 
the raising of their weekly wage from 9-10 shillings to 12 shillings. (It will be seen 
from the preceding passage that the movement of the English agricultural proletariat, 
entirely crushed since the suppression of its violent manifestations after 1830, and 
especially since the introduction of the new Poor Laws, begins again in the sixties, 
until it becomes finally epoch-making in 1872. I return to this in the 2nd volume, 
as well as to the blue books that have appeared since 1867 on the position, of the Eng 
lish land labourers. Addendum to the 3rd ed.) 

238 Capitalist Production. 

misfortune. They declare with one voice before the jury that 
ten or twelve years before, their labour only lasted eight hours 
a-day. During the last five or six years it had been screwed 
up to 14, 18, and 20 hours, and under a specially severe pres 
sure of holiday-makers, at times of excursion trains, it often 
lasted for 40 or 50 hours without a break. They were ordinary 
men, not Cyclops. At a certain point their labour-power failed. 
Torpor seized them. Their brain ceased to think, their eyes to 
see. The thoroughly " respectable " British jurymen answered 
by a verdict that sent them to the next assizes on a charge of 
manslaughter, and, in a gentle " rider " to their verdict, ex 
pressed the pious hope that the capitalistic magnates of the rail 
ways would, in future, be more extravagant in the purchase of a 
sufficient quantity of labour-power, and more " abstemious," 
more " self-denying," more " thrifty," in the draining of paid 

From the motley crowd of labourers of all callings, ages, 
sexes, that press on us more busily than the souls of the slain 
on Ulysses, on whom without referring to the blue books 
under their arms we see at a glance the mark of over- work, 
let us take two more figures whose striking contrast proves 
that before capital all men are alike a milliner and a black 

1 " Reynolds Newspaper," January, 1866. Every week this same paper has, 
under the sensational headings, " Fearful and fatal accidents," " Appalling tragedies," 
&c., a whole list of fresh railway catastrophes. On these an employe on the North 
Staffordshire line comments : " Everyone knows the consequences that may occur if 
the driver and fireman of a locomotive engine are not continually on the look-out. 
How can that be expected from a man who has been at such work for 29 or 30 hours, 
exposed to the weather, and without rest. The following is an example which ib of 
very frequent occurrence : One fireman commenced work on the Monday morning 
t a very early hour. When he had finished what is called a day s work, he had 
been on duty 14 hours 50 minutes. Before he had time to get his tea, he was again 
called on for duty. . . . The next time he finished he had been on duty 14 hours 
25 minutes, making a total of 29 hours 15 minutes without intermission. The rest 
of the week s work was made up as follows : Wednesday, 15 hours ; Thursday, 15 
hours 35 minutes ; Friday, 14 hours ; Saturday, 14 hours 10 minutes, making a 
total for the week of 88 hours 40 minutes. Now, sir, fancy his astonishment on 
being paid 6J days for the whole. Thinking it was a mistake, he applied to the time 
keeper, . . . and inquired what they considered a day s work, and was told 13 hours 
for a goods man (i.e., 78 hours). . . . He then asked for what he had made over 
and above the 78 hours per week, but was refused. However, he was at last told 
they would give hirn another quarter, i.e., lOd." 1. c., 4th February, 1866. 

The Working Day. 239 

In the last week of June, 1863, all the London daily papers 
published a paragraph with the " sensational " heading, " Death 
from simple over- work." It dealt with the death of the 
milliner, Mary Anne Walkley, 20 years of age, employed in a 
highly-respectable dressmaking establishment, exploited by a 
lady with the pleasant name of Elise. The old, often-told 
story, 1 was once more recounted. This girl worked, on an 
average, 16 \ hours, during the season often 30 hours, without a 
break, whilst her failing labour-power was revived by occasional 
supplies of sherry, port, or coffee. It was just now the height 
of the season. It was necessary to conjure up in the twinkling 
of an eye the gorgeous dresses for the noble ladies bidden to 
the ball in honour of the newly-imported Princess of Wales. 
Mary Anne Walkley had worked without intermission for 26^ 
hours, with 60 other girls, 30 in one room, that only afforded \ 
of the cubic feet of air required for them. At night, they slept 
in pairs in one of the stifling holes into which the bedroom was 
divided by partitions of board. 8 And this was one of the best 
millinery establishments in London. Mary Anne Walkley fell 
ill on the Friday, died on Sunday, without, to the astonish 
ment of Madame Elise, having previously completed the work 
in hand. The doctor, Mr. Keys, called too late to the death - 

i Cf. F. Engels. 1. o., pp. 253, 254. 

a Dr. Letheby, Consulting Physician of the Board of Health, declared : " The mini 
mum of air for each adult ought to be in a sleeping room 300, and in a dwelling room 
500 cubic feet." Dr. Richardson, Senior Physician to one of the London Hospitals : 
; With needlewomen of all kinds, including milliners, dressmakers, and ordinary 
sempstresses, there are three miseries over-work, deficient air, and either deficient 
food or deficient digestion. . . . Needlework, in the main, ... is infinitely 
better adapted to women than to men. But the mischiefs of the trade, in the 
metropolis especially, are that it is monopolised by some twenty-six capitalists, who, 
under the advantages that spring from capital, can bring in capital to force economy 
out of labour. This power tells throughout the whole class. If a dressmaker can 
get a little circle of customers, such is the competition that, in her home, she must 
work to the death to hold together, and this same over- work she must of necessity 
inflict on any who may assist her. If she fail, or do not try independently, she must 
join an establishment, where her labour is not less, but where her money is safe. 
Placed thus, she becomes a mere slave, tossed about with the variations of society. 
Now at home, in one room, starving, or near to it, then engaged 15, 16, aye, even 18 
hours out of the 24, in an air that ia scarcely tolerable, and on food which, even if it 
be good, cannot be digested in the absence of pure air. On these victims, consump 
tion, which is purely a disease of bad air, feeds." Dr. Richardson: "Work and 
Overwork," in " Social Science Review," 18th July, 1863. 

240 Capitalist Production. 

bed, duly bore witness before the coroner s jury that " Marj 
Anne Walkley had died from long hours of work in an over 
crowded workroom, and a too small and badly-ventilated bed 
room." In order to give the doctor a lesson in good manners, 
the coroner s jury thereupon brought in a verdict that " the 
deceased had died of apoplexy, but there was reason to fear 
that her death had been accelerated by over- work in an over 
crowded workroom, &c." " Our white slaves," cried the 
"Morning Star," the organ of the free-traders, Cobden and 
Bright, " our white slaves, who are toiled into the grave, for 
the most part silently pine and die." 

"It is not in dressmakers rooms that working to death is 
the order of the day, but in a thousand other places ; in every 
place I had almost said, where a thriving business has to be 
done. . . . We will take the blacksmith as a type. If 
the poets were true, there is no man so hearty, so merry, as 
the blacksmith ; he rises early and strikes his sparks before 
the sun ; he eats and drinks and sleeps as no other man. 
Working in moderation, he is, in fact, in one of the best of 
human positions, physically speaking. But we follow him into 
the city or town, and we see the stress of work on that strong 
man, and what then is his position in the death-rate of his 
country. In Marylebone, blacksmiths die at the rate of 31 per 
thousand per annum, or 11 above the mean of the male adults 
of the country in its entirety. The occupation, instinctive 

1 " Morning Star," 23rd June, 1863. The "Times " made use of the circumstance 
to defend the American slave owners against Bright, &c. " Very many of us think," 
says a leader of July 2nd, 1863, "that, while we work our own young women to 
death, using the scourge of starvation, instead of the crack of the whip, as the instru 
ment of compulsion, we have scarcely a right to hound on fire and slaughter against 
families who were born slave owners, and who, at least, feed their slaves well, and 
work them lightly." In the same manner, the "Standard," a Tory organ, fell foul 
of the Rev. Newman Hall : " He excommunicated the slave owners, but prays with 
the fine folk who, without remorse, make the omnibus drivers and conductors of 
London, &c., work 16 hours a-day for the wages of a dog." Finally, spake the oracle, 
Thomas Carlyle, of whom I wrote, in 1850, "Zum Tenfel ist der Genius, der Kultus 
1st geblieben." In a short parable, he reduces the one great event of contemporary 
history, the American civil war, to this level, that the Peter of the North wants to 
break the head of the Paul of the South with all his might, because the Peter of the 
North hires his labour by the day, and the Paul of the South hires his by the life. 
(" Macmillan s Magazine." Ilias Americana in mice. August, 1863.) Thus, the 
bubble of Tory sympathy for the urban workers by no means for the rural has 
burst at last. The sum of all is slavery ! 

The Working Day. 241 

almost as a portion of human art, unobjectionable as a branch 
of human industry, is made by mere excess of work, the de 
stroyer of the man. He can strike so many blows per day, walk 
BO many steps, breathe so many breaths, produce so much 
work, and live an average, say of fifty years ; he ia made to 
strike so many more blows, to walk so many more steps, to 
breathe so many more breaths per day, and to increase alto 
gether a fourth of his life. He meets the effort ; the result is, 
that producing for a limited time a fourth more work, he dies 
at 37 for 50." l 


Constant capital, the means of production, considered from 
the standpoint of the creation of surplus- value, only exist to 
absorb labour, and with every drop of labour a proportional 
quantity of surplus-labour. While they fail to do this, their 
mere existence causes a relative loss to the capitalist, for they 
represent during the time they lie fallow, a useless advance of 
capital. And this loss becomes positive and absolute as soon 
as the intermission of their employment necessitates additional 
outlay at the recommencement of work. The prolongation of 
the working day beyond the limits of the natural day, into 
the night, only acts as a palliative. It quenches only in a slight 
degree the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour. To 
appropriate labour during all the 24 hours of the day is, therefore, 
the inherent tendency of capitalist production. But as it is 
physically impossible to exploit the same individual labour- 
power constantly during the night as well as the day, to over 
come this physical hindrance, an alternation becomes necessary 
between the workpeople whose powers are exhausted by day, 
and those who are used up by night. This alternation may be 
effected In various ways ; e.g., it may be so arranged that part 
of the workers are one week employed on day work, the next 
week on night work. It is well-known that this relay system, 
this alternation of two sets of workers, held full sway in the 
full-blooded youth-time of the English cotton manufacture, and 

1 Dr Richardsoa, L o. 

242 Capitalist Production. 

that at the present time it still flourishes, among others, in the 
cotton spinning of the Moscow district. This 24 hours process 
of production exists to-day as a system in many of the 
branches of industry of Great Britain that are still " free," in 
the blast-furnaces, forges, plate-rolling mills, and other metal 
lurgical establishments in England, Wales, and Scotland. The 
working time here includes, besides the 24 hours of the 6 
working days, a great part also of the 24 hours of Sunday. 
The workers consist of men and women, adults and children 
of both sexes. The agesof the children and young persons run 
through all intermediate grades, from 8 (in some cases from 6) 

In some branches of industry, the girls and women work 
through the night together with the males. 8 

Placing on one side the generally injurious influence of night- 
labour, 8 the duration of the process of production, unbroken dur- 

1 Children s Employment Commission. Third Report. London, 1864, p. iv., v., vi. 

2 "Both in Staffordshire and in South Wales young girls and women are employed 
on the pit banks and on the coke heapg, not only by day but also by night. This 
practice has been often noticed in Reports presented to Parliament, as being attended 
with great and notorious evils. These females employed with the men, hardly dis 
tinguished from them in their dress, and begrimed with dirt and smoke, are exposed 
to the deterioration of character, arising from the loss of self-respect, which can 
hardly fail to follow from their unfeminine occupation." (1. c. 194., p. xxvi. Cf. 
Fourth Report (1865), 61, p. xiii.) It is the same in glass-works. 

8 A steel manufacturer who employs children in night-labour remarked "It 
seems but natural that boys who work at night cannot sleep and get proper rest by 
day, but will be running about." (1. o. Fourth Report, 63, p. xiii.) On the import 
ance of sunlight for the maintenance and growth of the body, a physician writes : 
"Light also acts upon the tissues of the body directly in hardening them and supporting 
their elasticity. The muscles of animals, when they are deprived of a proper amount 
of light, become soft and inelastic, the nervous power loses its tone from defective 
stimulation, and the elaboration of all growth seems to be perverted ...... In 

the case of children, constant access to plenty of light during the day, and to the 
direct rays of the sun for a part of it, is most essential to health. Light assists in the 
elaboration of good plastic blood, and hardens the fibre after it has been laid down. 
It also acts as a stimulus upon the organs of sight, and by this means brings about 
more activity In the various cerebral functions. " Dr. W. Strange, Senior Physician 
of the Worcester General Hospital, from whose work on "Health" (1864) this 
passage is taken, writes in a letter to Mr. White, one of the commissioners : " I have 
had opportunities formerly, when in Lancashire, of observing the effects of night-work 
upon children, and I have no hesitation in saying, contrary to what some employers 
were fond of asserting, those children who were subjected to it soon suffered in their 
wealth." (1. c. 284., p. 55.) That such a question should furnish the material of 
Berious controversy, shows plainly how capitalist production acts on the brain- 
functions of capitalists and their retainers 

The Working Day. 243 

ing the 24 hours, offers very welcome opportunities of exceeding 
the limits of the normal working day, e.g., in the branches of 
industry already mentioned, which are of an exceedingly 
fatiguing nature ; the official working day means for each 
worker usually 12 hours by night or day. But the over- work 
beyond this amount is in many cases, to use the words of the 
English official report, " tnily fearful." 1 

" It is impossible," the report continues, " for any mind to 
realise the amount of work described in the following passages 
as being performed by boys of from 9 to 12 years of age .... 
without coming irresistibly to the conclusion that such abuses 
of the power of parents and of employers can no longer be 
allowed to exist."* 

" The practice of boys working at all by day and night 
turns either in the usual course of things, or at pressing times, 
seems inevitably to open the door to their not untrequently 
working unduly long hours. These hours are, indeed, in some 
cases, not only cruelly but even incredibly long for children. 
Amongst a number of boys it will, of course, not unfrequently 
happen that one or mure are from some cause absent. When 
this happens, their place is made up by one or more boys, 
who work in the other turn. That this is a well understood 
system is plain . . . from the answer of the manager of 
some large rolling-mills, who, when I asked him how the 
place of the boys absent from their turn was made up, I 
daresay, sir, you know that as well as I do, and admitted the 
fact." 8 

" At a rolling-mill where the proper hours were from 6 a.m. 
to 5J p.m., a boy worked about four nights every week till 
8J p.m. at least . . . and this for six months. Another, at 9 
years old, sometimes made three 12-hour shifts running, and, 
when 10, has made two days and two nights running." A 
third, "now 10 ... worked from 6 a.m. till 12 p.m. three 
nights, and till 9 p.m. the other nights." "Another, now 13, 
. . . worked from 6 p.m. till 12 noon next day, for a week 
together, and sometimes for three shifts together, e.g., from 
Monday morning till Tuesday night." " Another, now 1 2, has 

* 1. o. 57, p. xii. 2 i. c . Fourth Keport (1865), 58, p. xii. 1. c. 

244 Capitalist Production. 

worked in an iron foundry at Stavely from 6 a.m. till 12 p.m.. 
for a fortnight on end ; could not do it any more." " George 
Allinsworth, age 9, came here as cellar-boy last Friday ; next 
morning we had to begin at 3, so I stopped here all night. 
Live five miles off. Slept on the floor of the furnace, over 
head, with an apron under me, and a bit of a jacket over me. 
The two other days I have been here at 6 a.m. Aye ! it is hot 
in here. Before I came here I was nearly a year at the same 
work at some works in the country. Began there, too, at 3 on 
Saturday morning always did, but was very gain [near] home, 
and could sleep at home. Other days I began at 6 in the morn 
ing, and gi en over at 6 or 7 in the evening," &C. 1 

1. o., p. xiii. The degree of culture of these " labour-powers " must naturally bs 
such as appears in the following dialogues with one of the commissioners : Jeremiah 
Haynes, age 12 "Four times four is 8 ; 4 fours are 16. A king is him that has all the 
money and gold. We have a King (told it is a Queen), they call her the Princes* 
Alexandra. Told that she married the Queen s son. The Queen s son is the Princess- 
Alexandra. A Princess is a man." William Turner, age 12 "Don t live in Eng 
land. Think it is a country, but didn t know before." John Morris, age 14 
" Have heard say that God made the world, and that all the people was drownded 
but one; heard say that one was a little bird." William Smith, age 15 " God 
made man, man made woman." Edward Taylor, age 15 "Do not know of Lou- 
don." Henry Matthewman, age 17 " Had been to chapel, but missed a good many 
times lately. One name that they preached about was Jesus Christ, but I cannot 
say any others, and I cannot tell anything about him. He was not killed, but died 
like other people. He was not the same as other people in some ways, because he 
was religious in some ways, and others isn t." (1. c. p. xv.) " The devil is a good 
person. I don t know where he lives. " " Christ was a wicked man. " " This girl spelt 
God as dog, and did not know the name of the queen." (" Oh. Employment Comm. 
V. Report, 1866," p. 55, n. 278.) The same system obtains in the glass and paper 
works as in the metallurgical, already cited. In the paper factories, where the paper 
is made by machinery, night-work is the rule for all processes, except rag-sorting. 
In some cases night-work, by relays, is carried on incessantly through the whole week, 
usually from Sunday night until midnight of the following Saturday. Those who are 
on day-work work 5 days of 12, and 1 day of 18 hours ; those on night-work 5 nights of 
12, and 1 of 6 hours in each week. In other cases each set works 24 hours consecu 
tively on alternate days, one set working 6 hours on Monday, and 18 on Saturday 
to make up the 24 hours. In other cases an intermediate system prevails, by which 
all employed on the paper-making machinery work 15 or 16 hours every day in the 
week. This system, says Coinmissionei Lord, "seems to combine all the evils of 
both the 12 hours and the 24 hours relays" Children under 13, young persons under 
18, and women, work under this night system. Sometime* under the 12 hours 
system they are obliged, on account of the non-appearance of those that ought to 
relieve them, to work a double turn of 24 hours. The evidence proves that boys 
and girls very often work over-time, which, not unfrequently, extends to 24 or even 36 
hours of uninterrupted toil. In the continuous and unvarying process of glazing are 
found girls of 12 who work the whole month 14 hours a day, " without any regular 

The Working Day. 245 

Let us now hear how capital itself regards this 24 hours 1 
system. The extreme forms of the system, its abuse in the 
41 cruel and incredible " extension of the working day are natur 
ally passed over in silence. Capital only speaks of the system 
in its a normal " form. 

Messrs. Naylor & Vickers, steel manufacturers, who employ 
between 600 and 700 persons, among whom only 10 per cent, 
are under 18, and of those, only 20 boys under 18 work in 
night sets, thus express themselves : "The boys do not suffer 
from the heat. The temperature is probably from 86 to 90. 
. . . . At the forges and in the rolling-mills the hands 
work night and day, in relays, but all the other parts of the 
work are day work, i.e., from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the forge the 
hours are from 12 to 12. Some of the hands always work in 
the night, without any alternation of day and night work. . 
. . . . We do not find any difference in the health of those 
who work regularly by night and those who work by day, and 
probably people can sleep better if they have the same period 
of rest than if it is changed. .... About 20 of the boys 

under the age of 18 work in the night seta We 

could not well do without lads under 18 working by night. 
The objection would be the increase in the cost of production. 
.... Skilled hands and the heads in every department 
are difficult to get, but of lads we could get any number. . 
. . . But from the small proportion of boys that we employ 
the subject (i.e., of restrictions on night work) is of little im 
portance or interest to us." 1 

Mr. J. Ellis, one of the firm of Messrs. John Brown & Co., 
steel and iron works, employing about 3000 men and boys, part 
of whose operations, namely, iron and heavier steel work, goes 
on night and day by relays, states " that in the heavier steel 
work one or two boys are employed to a score or two men." 
Their concern employs upwards of 500 boys under 18, of whom 
about i or 170 are under the age of 13. With reference to the 

relief or cessation beyond 2 or, at most, 3 breaks of half -an-hour each for meals." In 
some mills, where regular night-work has been entirely given up, over- work goes on 
to a terrible extent, " and that often in the dirtiest, and in the hottest, and in the 
most monotonous of the various processes." ("Ch. Employment Comm. Report 
IV., 1865," p. xxxviii. and xxxix.) 1 Fourth Report, &c., 1865, 79, p. xvi. 

246 Capitalist Production. 

proposed alteration of the law, Mr Ellis says : " I do not think 
it would be very objectionable to require that no person under 
the age of 18 should work more than 12 hours in the 24 But 
we do not think that any line could be drawn over the age of 
12, at which boys could be dispensed with for night work. But 
we would sooner be prevented from employing boys under the 
age of 13, or even so high as 14, at all, than not be allowed to 
employ boys that we do have at night. Those boys who 
work in the day sets must take their turn in the night sets also, 
because the men could not work in the night sets only ; it 

would ruin their health We think, however, that 

night work in alternate weeks is no harm. (Messrs. Naylor & 
Vickers, on the other hand, in conformity with the interest of 
their business, considered that periodically changed night-labour 
might possibly do more harm than continual night-labour.) We 
find the men who do it, as well as the others who do other 

work only by day Our objections to not 

allowing boys under 18 to work at night, would be on account 
of the increase of expense, but this is the only reason. (What 
cynical naivete !) We think that the increase would be more 
than the trade, with due regard to its being successfully carried 
out, could fairly bear. (What mealy-mouthed phraseology !) 
Labour is scarce here, and might fall short if there were such 
a regulation." (t.&, Ellis Brown & Co. might fall into the fatal 
perplexity of being obliged to pay labour-power its full value.)j 
The " Cyclops Steel and Iron Works," of Messrs. Carninell & 
Co,, are conducted on the same large scale as those of the above 
mentioned John Brown & Co. The managing director had 
handed in his evidence to the Government Commissioner, Mr. 
White, in writing. Later he found it convenient to suppress 
the MS. when it had been returned to him for revision. Mr. 
White, however, has a good memory. He remembered quite 
clearly that for the Messrs. Cyclops the forbidding of the night- 
labour of children and young persons " would be impossible, it 
would be tantamount to stopping their works," and yet their 
business employs little more than 6 / of boys under 18, and 
less than 1 % under 13. 2 

1 1. c. 80, p. xvi. * 1. c. 82, p. xvii. 

The Working Day. 247 

On the same subject Mr. E. F. Sanderson, of the firm of 
Sanderson, Bros., & Co., steel rolling-mills and^forges, Attercliffe, 
says : " Great difficulty would be caused by preventing boys 
under 18 from working at night. The chief would be the in 
crease of cost from employing men instead of boys. I cannot 
say what this would be, but probably it would not be enough 
to enable the manufacturers to raise the price of steel, and con 
sequently it would fall on them, as of course the men (what 
queer-headed folk ! ) would refuse to pay it." Mr. San 
derson does not know how much he pays the children, but 
" perhaps the younger boys get from 4s. to 5s. a week. . . . 
The boys work is of a kind for which the strength of the boys 
is generally ( f generally, of course not always) quite sufficient, 
and consequently there would be no gain in the greater strength 
of the men to counterbalance the loss, or it would be only in 
the few cases in which the metal is heavy. The men would 
not like so well not to have boys under them, as men would be 
less obedient. Besides, boys must begin young to learn the 
trade. Leaving day work alone open to boys would not answer 
this purpose." And why not ? Why could not boys learn 
their handicraft in the day- time ? Your reason ? " Owing to 
the men working days and nights in alternate weeks, the men 
would be separated half the time from their boys, and would 
lose half the profit which they make from them. The training 
which they give to an apprentice is considered as part of the 
return for the boys labour, and thus enables the men to get it 
at a cheaper rate. Each man would want half of this profit." 
In other words, Messrs. Sanderson would have to pay part of 
the wages of the adult men out of their own pockets instead of 
by the night work of the boys. Messrs. Sanderson s profit 
would thus fall to some extent, and this is the good Sandersonian 
reason why boys cannot learn their handicraft in the day. 1 In 
addition to this, it would throw night labour on those who 
worked instead of the boys, which they would not be able to 

1 In our reflecting and reasoning age a man is not worth much who cannot give a 
good reason for everything, no matter how bad or how crazy. Everything in the 
world that has been done wrong has been done wrong for the very best of reasons. 
(Hegel, 1. c., p. 249.) 

248 Capitalist Production. 

stand. The difficulties in fact would be so great that they 
would very likely lead to the giving up of night work altogether, 
and " as far as the work itself is concerned," says E. F. Sander 
son, " this would suit as well, but " But Messrs. Sanderson 
have something else to make besides steel. Steel-making is 
simply a pretext for surplus-value making. The smelting 
furnaces, rolling-mills, &c., the buildings, machinery, iron, coal, 
&c., have something more to do than transform themselves into 
steel. They are there to absorb surplus-labour, and naturally 
absorb more in 24 hours than in 12. In fact they give, by 
grace of God and law, the Sandersons a cheque on the working 
time of a certain number of hands for all the 24 hours of the 
day, and they lose their character as capital, are therefore a 
pure loss for the Sandersons, as soon as their function of 
absorbing labour is interrupted. " But then there would be 
the loss from so much expensive machinery, lying idle half the 
time^ and to get through the amount of work which we are able 
to do on the present system, we should have to double our 
premises and plant, which would double the outlay." But why 
should these Sandersons pretend to a privilege not enjoyed by 
the other capitalists who only work during the day, and whose 
buildings, machinery, raw material, therefore lie " idle " during 
the night? E. F. Sanderson answers in the name of all the 
Sandersons : " It is true that there is this loss from machinery 
lying idle in those manufactories in which work only goes on 
by day. But the use of furnaces would involve a further loss 
in our case. If they were kept up there would be a waste of 
fuel (instead of, as now, a waste of the living substance of the 
workers), and if they were not, there would be loss of time in 
laying the fires and getting the heat up (whilst the loss of 
sleeping time, even to children of 8 is a gain of working 
time for the Sanderson tribe), and the furnaces themselves 
would suffer from the changes of temperature." (Whilst those 
same furnaces suffer nothing from the day and night change of 
labour.) 1 

1 1. c. 85, p. xvil. To similar tender scruples of the glass manufacturers that regular 
meal times for the children are impossible because as a consequence a certain quantity 
of heat, radiated by the furnaces, would be "a pure loss" or "wasted," Com 
missioner White makes answer. His answer is unlike that of Ure, Senior, &c., and 

The Working Day. 249 


u What is a working day ? What is the length of time 
during which capital may consume the labour-power whose 
daily value it buys ? How far may the working day be ex 
tended beyond the working time necessary for the reproduction 
of labour-power itself? It has been seen that to these 
questions capital replies : the working day contains the full 24 
hours, with the deduction of the few hours of repose without 
which labour-power absolutely refuses its services again. 
Hence it is self-evident that the labourer is nothing else, his 
whole life through, than labour-power, that therefore all his 
disposable time is by nature and law labour-time, to be devoted 
to the self-expansion of capital. Time for education, for 
intellectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions 
and for social intercourse, for the free-play of his bodily and 
mental activity, even the rest time of Sunday (and that in a 

their puny German plagiarists a la Roscher who are touched by the " abstinence," 
* self-denial," "saving," of the capitalists in the expenditure of their gold, and by their 
Timur-Tamerlanish prodigality of human life ! "A certain amount of heat beyond 
what is usual at present might also be going to waste, if meal times were secured in 
these cases, but it seems likely not equal in money-value to the waste of animal 
power now going on in glass-houses throughout the kingdom from growing boys not 
having enough quiet time to eat their meals at ease, with a little rest afterwards for 
digestion." (1. c., p. xlv.) And this in the year of progress 1865 ! Without con 
sidering the expenditure of strength in lifting and carrying, such a child, in the sheds 
where bottle and flint glass are made, walks during the performance of his work 15-20 
miles in every 6 hours ! And the work often lasts 14 or 15 hours ! In many of 
these glass works, as in the Moscow spinning mills, the system of 6 hours relays is in 
force. During the working part of the week six hours is the utmost unbroken 
period ever attained at any one time for rest, and out of this has to come the time 
spent in coming and going to and from work, washing, dressing, and meals, leaving a 
very short period indeed for rest, and none for fresh air and play, unless at the expense 
of the sleep necessary for young boys, especially at such hot and fatiguing work. . 
. . . Even the short sleep is obviously liable to be broken by a boy having to wake 
himself if it is night, or by the noise, if it is day. " Mr White gives cases where a boy 
worked 36 consecutive hours ; others where boys of 12 drudged on until 2 in the morn 
ing, and then slept in the works till 5 a.m. (3 hours 1) only to resume their work. 
The amount of work," say Tremenheere and Tufnell, who drafted the general 
report, "done by boys, youths, girls, and women, in the course of their daily or 
nightly spell of labour, is certainly extraordinary." (1. c., xliii. and xliv.) Meanwhile, 
late by night perhaps, self -denying Mr. Glass-Capital, primed with port-wine, reels out 
of his club homeward droning out idiotically, " Britons never, never shall be slaves ! 

2 So Capitalist Production. 

country of Sabbatarians I) 1 moonshine ! But in its blind 
nnrestrainable passion, its were-wolf hunger for surplus-labour, 
capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely 
physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the 
time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of 
the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of 
fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal -time, incorpor 
ating it where possible with the process of production itself, so 
that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of pro 
duction, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the 
machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the resto 
ration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so 
many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely 
exhausted, renders essential. It is not the normal maintenance 
of the labour-power which is to determine the limits of the 
working day ; it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of 
labour-power, no matter how diseased, compulsory, and painful 
it mav be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers 


period of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life 
of labour-power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the 
maximum of labour-power, that can be rendered fluent in a 
working day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of 
the labourer s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased pro 
duce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility. 

The capitalistic mode of production (essentially the pro 
duction of surplus-value, the absorption of surplus-labour), 
produces thus, with the extension of the working day, not only 
the deterioration of human labour-power by robbing it of its 

1 In England even now occasionally in rural districts a labourer is condemned to 
imprisonment for desecrating the Sabbath, by working in his front garden. The same 
labourer ia punished for breach of contract if he remains away from his metal, paper, 
or glass works on the Sunday, even if it be from a religious whim. The orthodox 
Parliament will hear nothing of Sabbath -breaking if it occurs in the process of ex 
panding capital. A memorial (August 1863), in which the London day-labourers in 
fish and poultry shops asked for the abolition of Sunday labour, states that their work 
lasts for the first 6 days of the week on an average 15 hours a-day, and on Sunday 
8-10 hours. From this same memorial we learn also that the delicate gourmands 
among the aristocratic hypocrites of Exeter Hall, especially encourage this " Sunday 
labour." These " holy ones," so eealou* in cute curanda, show their Christianity by 
the humility with which they bear the overwork, the privations, and the hunger of 
others. Obsequium ventris istis (the labourers) perniciosius est. 

The Working Day. 251 

normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and 
function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and death 
of this labour-power itself. 1 It extends the labourer s time of 
production during a given period by shortening his actual life 

But the value of the labour-power includes the value of the 
commodities necessary for the reproduction of the worker, or 
for the keeping up of the working class. If then the unnatural 
extension of the working day, that capital necessarily strives 
after in its unmeasured passion for self-expansion, shortens the 
length of life of the individual labourer, and therefore the 
duration of his labour-power, the forces used up have to be re 
placed at a more rapid rate and the sum of the expenses for 
the reproduction of labour-power will be greater ; just as in a 
machine the part of its value to be reproduced every day is 
greater the more rapidly the machine is worn out. It would 
seem therefore that the interest of capital itself points in the 
direction of a normal working day. 

The slave-owner buys his labourer as he buys his horse. If 
he loses his slave, he loses capital that can only be restored by 
new outlay in the slave-mart. But " the rice-grounds of 
Georgia, or the swamps of the Mississippi may be fatally in 
jurious to the human constitution ; but the waste of human 
life which the cultivation of these districts necessitates, is not 
so great that it cannot be repaired from the teeming preserves 
of Virginia and Kentucky. Considerations of economy, more 
over, which, under a natural system, afford some security for 
humane treatment by identifying the master s interest with 
the slave s preservation, when once trading in slaves is practised, 
become reasons for racking to the uttermost the toil of the 
slave ; for, when his place can at once be supplied from foreign 
preserves, the duration of his life becomes a matter of less 
moment than its productiveness while it lasts. It is accord 
ingly a maxim of slave management, in slave-importing 
countries, that the most effective economy is that which takes 

1 ""We have given in our previous reports the statements of several experienced 
manufacturers to the effect that over-hours. . . . certainly tend prematurely to ex 
haust the working power of the men." (1. c. 64, p. xiii.) 

252 Capitalist Production. 

out of the human chattel in the shortest space of time the 
utmost amount of exertion it is capable of putting forth. It 
is in tropical culture, where annual profits often equal the 
whole capital of plantations, that negro life is most recklessly 
sacrificed. It is the agriculture of the West Indies, which has 
been for centuries prolific of fabulous wealth, that has engulfed 
millions of the African race. It is in Cuba, at this day, whose 
revenues are reckoned by millions, and whose planters are 
princes, that we see in the servile class, the coarsest fare, the 
most exhausting and unremitting toil, and even the absolute 
destruction of a portion of its numbers every year." 1 

Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. For slave-trade 
read labour-market, for Kentucky and Virginia, Ireland and 
the agricultural districts of England, Scotland, and Wales, 
for Africa, Germany. We heard how over-work thinned the 
ranks ;>f the bakers in London. Nevertheless, the London 
labr ur-market is always over-stocked with German and other 
candidates for death in the bakeries. Pottery, as we saw, is 
one of the shortest-lived industries. Is there any want there 
fore of potters ? Josiah Wedgwood, the inventor of modern 
pottery, himself originally a common workman, said in 1785 
before the House of Commons that the whole trade employed 
from 15,000 to 20,000 people. 8 In the year 1861 the population 
alone of the town centres of this industry in Great Britain 
numbered 101,302. " The cotton trade has existed for ninety 
years. ... It has existed for three generations of the English 
race, and I believe I may safely say that during that period it 
has destroyed nine generations of factory operatives." 3 

No doubt in certain epochs of feverish activity the labour- 
market shows significant gaps. In 1834, e.g. But then the 
manufacturers proposed to the Poor Law Commissioners that 
they should send the " surplus-population " of the agricultural 
districts to the north, with the explanation " that the manu 
facturers would absorb and use it up." 4 " Agents were ap 
pointed with the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners. . . . 

i Cairnes, "The Slave Power," p. 110, 111. 

3 John Ward : " History of the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent," London, 1843, p. 42. 

8 Ferrand s Speech in the House of Commons, 27th April, 1863. 

* " Those were the very words used by the cotton manufacturers," 1. o. 

The Working Day 253 

An office was set up in Manchester, to which lists were sent of 
those workpeople in the agricultural districts wanting employ 
ment, and their names were registered in books. The manu 
facturers attended at these offices, and selected such persons as 
they chose ; when they had selected such persons as their 
wants required/ they gave instructions to have them for 
warded to Manchester, and they were sent, ticketed like bales 
of goods, by canals, or with carriers, others tramping on the 
road, and many of them were found on the way lost and half- 
starved. This system had grown up into a regular trade. 
This House will hardly believe it, but I tell them, that this 
traffic in human flesh was as well kept up, they were in effect 
as regularly sold to these [Manchester] manufacturers as slaves 

are sold to the cotton-grower in the United States In 

1860, the cotton trade was at its zenith. .... The manu 
facturers again found that they were short of hands. . . . They 
applied to the flesh agents/ as they are called. Those agents 
sent to the southern downs of England, to the pastures of Dor 
setshire, to the glades of Devonshire, to the people tending 
kine in Wiltshire, but they sought in vain. The surplus- 
population was 4 absorbed. " The " Bury Guardian " said, on 
the completion of the French treaty, that " 10,000 additional 
hands could be absorbed by Lancashire, and that 30,000 or 
40,000 will be needed." After the " flesh agents and sub- 
agents " had in vain sought through the agricultural districts, 
" a deputation came up to London, and waited on the right hon. 
gentleman [Mr. Villiers, President of the Poor Law Board] with 
a view of obtaining poor children from certain union houses 
for the mills of Lancashire." 1 

1 1. c. Mr. Villiers, despite the best of intentions on his part, was " legally" obliged 
to refuse the requests of the manufacturers. These gentlemen, however, attained 
their end through the obliging nature of the local poor law boards. Mr. A. Redgrave, 
Inspector of Factories, asserts that this time the system under which orphans and 
pauper children were treated "legally " as apprentices " was not accompanied with 
the old abuses " (on these "abuses" see Engels, 1. c.), although in one case there 
certainly was " abuse of this system in respect to a number of girls and young women 
brought from the agricultural districts of Scotland into Lancashire and Cheshire." 
Under this system the manufacturer entered into a contract with the workhousa 
authorities for a certain period. He fed, clothed, and lodged the children, and gave 
them a small allowance of money. A remark of Mr. Redgrave to be quoted directly 
eems strange, especially if we consider that even among the years of prosperity of 

254 Capitalist Production. 

What experience shows to the capitalist generally is a con 
stant excess of population, i.e. t an excess in relation to tho 
momentary requirements of surplus-labour-absorbing capital, 
although this excess is made up of generations of human beings 
stunted, short-lived, swiftly replacing each other, plucked, so 
to say, before maturity. 1 And, indeed, experience shows to the 
intelligent observer with what swiftness and grip the capitalist 
mode of production, dating, historically speaking, only from 
yesterday, has seized the vital power of the people by the very 
root shows how the degeneration of the industrial population 
is only retarded by the constant absorption of primitive and 
physically uncorrupted elements from the country shows how 
even the country labourers, in spite of fresh air and the principle 
of natural selection, that works so powerfully amongst them, 

the English cotton trade, the year 1860 stands unparalleled, and that, besides, wages 
were exceptionally high. For this extraordinary demand for work had to contend 
with the depopulation of Ireland, with unexampled emigration from the English and 
Scotch agricultural districts to Australia and America, with an actual diminution of 
the population in some of the English agricultural districts, in consequence partly of 
an actual breakdown of tho vital force of the labourers, partly of the already effected 
dispersion of the disposable population through the dealers in human flesh. Despite 
all this Mr. Redgrave says : " This kind of labour, however, would only be sought 
after when none other could be procured, for it is a high-priced labour. The ordinary 
wages of a boy of 13 would be about 4s. per week, but to lodge, to clothe, to feed, and to 
provide medical attendance and proper superintendence for 50 or 100 of these boys, and 
to set aside some remuneration for them, could not be accomplished for 4s. a-head per 
week." (Report of the Inspector of Factories for 30th April, 1860, p. 27.) Mr. Red 
grave forgets to tell us how the labourer himself can do all this for his children out 
of their 4s. a-week wages, when the manufacturer cannot do it for the 50 or 100 
children lodged, boarded, superintended all together. To guard against false con 
clusions from the text, I ought here to remark that the English cotton industry, since 
it was placed under the Factory Act of 1850 with its regulations of labour-time, &c., 
must be regarded as the model industry of England. The English cotton operative is 
in every respect better off than his continental companion in misery. " The Prussian 
factory operative labours at least ten hours per week more than his English competi 
tor, and if employed at his own loom in his own house, his labour is not restricted 
to even those additional hours." (" Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," Oct. 1853, p. 103.) Red 
grave, the Factory Inspector mentioned above, after the Industrial Exhibition in 1851, 
travelled on the Continent, especially in France and Germany, for the purpose of 
inquiring into the conditions of the factories. Of the Prussian operative he says: 
" He receives a remuneration sufficient to procure the simple fare, and ta supply the 

slender comforts to which he has been accustomed he lives upon his coarse 

fare, and works hard, wherein his position is subordinate to that of the English opera 
tive." (" Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1853, p. 85.) 

1 The overworked " die off with strange rapidity ; but the places of those who 
perish are instantly filled, and a frequent change of persons makes no alteration in the 
scene." ("England and America." London, 1833, vol. I, p. 55. By E. G. Wakefield.) 

The Working Day. 255 

and only permits the survival of the strongest, are already be 
ginning to die off. 1 Capital that has such good reasons for 
denying the sufferings of the legions of workers that surround 
it, is in practice moved as much and as little by the sight of 
the coming degradation and final depopulation of the human 
race, as by the probable fall of the earth into the sun. In every 
stock-jobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other 
the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on 
the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the 
shower of gold and placed it in safety. Aprds moi le deluge / 
is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist 
nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of 
life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society. 3 To 
the outcry as to the physical and mental degradation, the pre 
mature death, the torture of overwork, it answers : Ought these 
to trouble us since they increase our profits ? But looking at 
things as a whole, all this does not, indeed, depend on the good 
or ill will of the individual capitalist. Free competition brings 
out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of 
external coercive laws having power over every individual 

1 See " Public Health. Sixth Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, 
1863." Published in London 1864. This report deals especially with the agricultural 
labourers. " Sutherland ... is commonly represented as a highly improved county 
. . . but . . . recent inquiry has discovered that even there, in districts once famous 
for fine men and gallant soldiers, the inhabitants have degenerated into a meagre and 
stunted race. In the healthiest situations, on hill sides fronting the sea, the faces of 
their famished children are as pale as they could be in the foul atmosphere of a 
London alley." (W. T. Thornton. "Over-population and its remedy." 1. c., p. 74, 
75.) They resemble in fact the 30,000 "gallant Highlanders" whom Glasgow pigs 
together in its wynds and closes, with prostitutes and thieves. 

2 " But though the health of a population is BO important a fact of the national 
capital, we are afraid it must be said that the class of employers of labour have not 
been the most forward to guard and cherish this treasure. . . . The consideration of 
the health of the operatives was forced upon the millowners. (" Times," November 
5th, 1861.) " The men of the West Riding became the clothiers of mankind .... 
the health of the workpeople was sacrificed, and the race in a few generations must 
have degenerated. But a reaction set in. Lord Shaftesbury a Bill limited the hours 
of children s labour," &c. (" Report of the Registrar-General," for October 1861.) 

J "We, therefore, find, e.g., that in the beginning of 1863, 26 firms owning extensive 
potteries in Staffordshire, amongst others, Josiah Wedgwood, & Sons petition in a 
memorial for " some legislative enactment." Competition with other capitalists per 
mits them no voluntary limitation of working-time for children, &c. " Much as we 
deplore the evils before mentioned, it would not be possible to prevent them by any 

256 Capitalist Production. 

The establishment of a normal working day is the result or 
centuries of struggle between capitalist and labourer. The 
history of this struggle shows two opposed tendencies. Com 
pare, e.g. y the English factory legislation of our time with the 
English Labour Statutes from the 14th century to well into 
the middle of the 18th. 1 Whilst the modern Factory Acts com- 
pulsorily shortened the working-day, the earlier statutes tried 
to lengthen it by compulsion. Of course the pretensions of 
capital in embryo when, beginning to grow, it secures the 
right of absorbing a quantum sufficit of surplus-labour, not 
merely by the force of economic relations, but by the help of 
the State appear very modest when put face to face with the 
concessions that, growling and struggling, it has to make in its 
adult condition. It takes centuries ere the " free " labourer, 
thanks to the development of capitalistic production, agrees, 
i.e. y is compelled by social conditions, to sell the whole of his 
active life, his very capacity for work, for the price of the 
necessaries of life, his birthright for a mess of pottage. Hence 
it is natural that the lengthening of the working day, which 
capital, from the middle of the 14th to the end of the 17th 
century, tries to impose by State-measures on adult labourers, 
approximately coincides with the shortening of the working 
day which, in the second half of the 19th century, has here and 
there been effected by the State to prevent the coining of 
children s blood into capital. That which to-day, e.g., in the 
State of Massachusetts, until recently the freest State of the 
North-American Republic, has been proclaimed as the statutory 

scheme of agreement between the manufacturers. . . . Taking all these points into 
consideration, we have come to the conviction that some legislative enactment is 
wanted." (" Children s Employment Comm." Rep. 1., 1863, p. 322.) Most recently a 
much more striking example offers. The rise in the price of cotton during a period 
of feverish activity, had induced the manufacturers in Blackburn to shorten, by 
mutual consent, the working-time in their mills during a certain fixed period. This 
period terminated about the end of November, 1871. Meanwhile, the wealthier 
manufacturers, who combined spinning with weaving, used the diminution of produc 
tion resulting from this agreement, to extend their own business and thus to make 
great profits at the expense of the small employers. The latter thereupon turned in 
their extremity to the operatives, urged them earnestly to agitate for the 9 hours 
nystem, and promised contributions in money to this end. 

1 The Labour Statutes, the like of which were enacted at the same time in France, 
the Netherlands, and elsewhere, were first formally repealed in England in 1813, long 
after the changes in methods of production had rendered them obsolete. 

The Working Day. 257 

limit of the labour of children under 12, was in England, even 
in the middle of the 17th century, the normal working-day of 
able-bodied artizans, robust labourers, athletic blacksmiths. 1 

The first Statute of Labourers " (23 Edward III., 1349) 
found its immediate pretext (not its cause, for legislation of 
this kind lasts centuries after the pretext for it has disappeared) 
in the great plague that decimated the people, so that, as a Tory 
writer says, " The difficulty of getting men to work on reason 
able terms (i.e., at a price that left their employers a reasonable 
quantity of surplus-labour) grew to such a height as to be quite 
intolerable."* Reasonable wages were, therefore, fixed by law 
as well as the limits of the working day. The latter point, the 
only one that here interests us, is repeated in the Statute of 
1496 (Henry VIII.). The working day for all artificers and 
field labourers from March to September ought, according to 
this statute (which, however, could not be enforced), to last from 
5 in the morning to between 7 and 8 in the evening. But the 
meal times consist of 1 hour for breakfast, 1 J hours for dinner, 
and an hour for " noon-meate," i.e., exactly twice as much as 
under the factory acts now in force.* In winter, work was to 

1 " No child under 12 years of age shall be employed in any manufacturing estab 
lishment more than 10 hours in one day." General Statutes of Massachusetts, G3, 
ch. 12. (The various Statutes were passed between 1836 and 1858.) "Labour per 
formed during a period of 10 hours on any day in all cotton, woollen, silk, paper, 
glass, and flax factories, or in manufactories of iron and brass, shall be considered a 
legal day s labour. And be it enacted, that hereafter no minor engaged in any factory 
shall be holden or required to work more than 10 hours in any day, or 60 hours in auy 
week ; and that hereafter no minor shall be admitted as a worker under the age of 
10 years in any factory within this State." State of New Jersey. An Act to Kmit 
the hours of labour, &c., 61 and 62. (Law of llth March, 1855.) " No minor who has 
attained the age of 12 years, and is under the age of 15 years, shall be employed in 
any manufacturing establishment more than 11 hours in any one day, nor before 5 
o clock in the morning, nor after 7.30 in the evening." (" Revised Statutes of the 
State of Rhode Island," &c., ch. 39, 23, 1st July, 1857.) 

" Sophisms of Free Trade." 7th Ed. London, 1850, p. 205. 9th Ed. , p. 253. This 
same Tory, moreover, admits that " Acts of Parliament regulating wages, but against 
the labourer and in favour of the master, lasted for the long period of 464 years. 
Population grew. These laws were then found, and really became, unnecessary and 
burdensome." (1. c., p. 206.) 

* In reference to this statute, J. Wade with truth remarks : " From the statement 
above (i.e., with regard to the statute) it appears that in 1496 the diet was considered 
<juivalent to one third of the income of an artificer and one-half the income of a 
labourer, which indicates a greater degree of independence among the working classes 
than prevails at present j for the board, both of jabourers and artificers, would now 


258 Capitalist Production. 

last from 5 in the morning until dark, with the same intervals. 
A. statute of Elizabeth of 1562 leaves the length of the work 
ing day for all labourers " hired for daily or weekly wage " un 
touched, but aims at limiting the intervals to 2i hours in the 
summer, or to 2 in the winter. Dinner is only to last 1 hour, 
and the " afternoon-sleep of half an hour >] is only allowed 
between the middle of May and the middle of August. For 
every hour of absence Id. is to be subtracted from the wage. 
In practice, however, the conditions were much more favourable 
to the labourers than in the statute-book. William Petty, the 
father of political economy, and to some extent the founder of 
Statistics, saj^s in a work that he published in the last third of 
the 17th century: "Labouring-men (then meaning field-labourers) 
work 10 hours per diem, and make 20 meals per week, viz., 3 
a day for working days, and 2 on Sundays ; whereby it is plain, 
that if they could fast on Fryday nights, and dine in one hour 
and an half, whereas they take two, from eleven to one; thereby 
this working ^ more, and spending -^ less, the above-men 
tioned (tax) might be raised." 1 Was not Dr. Andrew Ure right 
in crying down the 12 hours bill of 1833 as a retrogression to 
the times of the dark ages ? It is true, these regulations con 
tained in the statute mentioned by Petty, apply also to ap 
prentices. But the condition of child-labour, even at the end 
of the 17th century, is seen from the following complaint: 
" Tis not their practice (in Germany) as with us in this king 
dom, to bind an apprentice for seven years ; three or four is 
their common standard : and the reason is, because they are 
educated from their cradle to something of employment, which 
renders them the more apt and docile, and consequently the more 
capable of attaining to a ripeness and quicker proficiency in 
business. Whereas our youth, here in England, being bred to 
nothing before they come to be apprentices, make a very slow 

be reckoned at a much higher proportion of their wages." (J. Wade, " History of the 
Middle and Working Classes," p. 24, 25, and 577.) The opinion that this difference is 
due to the difference in the price-relations between food and clothing then and now 
is refuted by the most cursory glance at " Chronicon Pretiosum, &c." By Bishop 
Fleetwood. 1st Ed., London, 1707; 2d Ed., London, 1745. 

1 W. Petty, " Political Anatomy of Ireland, Verbum Sapienti," 1672, Ed. 1691, 
p. 10. 

The Working Day. 259 

progress and require much longer time wherein to reach the 
perfection of accomplished artists." 1 

Still, during the greater part of the 18th century, up to the 
epoch of Modern Industry and machinism, capital in England 
had not succeeded in seizing for itself, by the payment of the 
weekly value of labour-power, the whole week of the labourer 
with the exception, however, of the agricultural labourers. 
The fact that they could live for a whole week on the wage of 
four days, did not appear to the labourers a sufficient reason 
that they should work the other two days for the capitalist. 
One party of English economists, in the interest of capital, de 
nounces this obstinacy in the most violent manner, another 
party defends the labourers. Let us listen, e.g., to the contest 
between Postlethwayt whose Dictionary of Trade then had the 
same reputation as the kindred works of M Culloch and 
M Gregor to-day, and the author (already quoted) of the 
" Essay on Trade and Commerce." 

1 "A Discourse on the necessity of encouraging Machanick Industry," London, 
1689, p. 13. Macaulay, who has falsified English history in the interest of the Whigs 
and the bourgeoisie, declare* aa follows : " The practice of setting children prematurely 
to work .... prevailed in the 17th century to an extent which, when compared 
with the extent of the manufacturing system, seems almost incredible. At Norwich, 
the chief eat of the clothing trade, a little creature of six years old was thought fit 
for labour. Several writers of that time, and among them some who were considered 
as eminently benevolent, mention with exultation the fact that in that single city, 
boys and girls of very tender age create wealth exceeding what was necessary for 
their own subsistence by twelve thousand pounds a year. The more carefully we 
examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent from those 

who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social evils That which is 

new is the intelligence and the humanity which remedies them." (" History of Eng 
land," vol. I., p. 419.) Macaulay might have reported further that "extremely 
well-disposed " ami* du commerce in the 17th century, narrate with " exultation " 
how in a poorhouse in Holland a child of four was employed, and that this example 
of " vertu mist en pratique" passes muster in all the humanitarian works, d la Macau- 
lay, to the time of Adam Smith. It is true that with the substitution of manufacture 
for handicrafts, traces of the exploitation of children begin to appear. This exploitation 
existed always to a certain extent among peasants, and was the more developed, the 
heavier the yoke pressing on the husbandman. The tendency of capital is there un 
mistakably ; but the facts themselves are still as isolated as the phenomena of two- 
headed children. Hence they were noted " with exultation " as especially worthy 
of remark and as wonders by the far-seeing " amis du commerce," and recommended as 
models for their own time and for posterity. This same Scotch sycophant and fine 
talker, Macaulay, says : " We hear to-day only of retrogression and see only progress." 
What eyes, and especially what ears ! 

2 Among the accusers of the workpeople, the most angry is the anonymous author 
quoted in the text of " An Easay on trade and commerce, containing observations on 

260 Capitalist Production. 

Postlethwayt says among other things : " We cannot put an 
end to those few observations, without noticing that trite re 
mark in the mouth of too many ; that if the industrious poor 
can obtain enough to maintain themselves in five days, they 
will not work the whole six. Whence they infer the necessity 
of even the necessaries of life being made dear by taxes, or any 
other means, to compel the working artizan and manufacturer 
to labour the whole six days in the week, without ceasing. I 
must beg leave to differ in sentiment from those great 
politicians, who contend for the perpetual slavery of the work 
ing people of this kingdom ; they forget the vulgar adage, all 
work and no play. Have not the English boasted of the in 
genuity and dexterity of her working artists and manufacturers 
which have heretofore given credit and reputation to British 
wares in general ? What has this been owing to ? To nothing 
more probably than the relaxation of the working people in 
their own way. Were the3 r obliged to toil the year round, the 
whole six days in the week, in a repetition of the same work, 
might it not blunt their ingenuity, and render them stupid in 
stead of alert and dexterous ; and might not our workmen lose 
their reputation instead of maintaining it by such eternal 
slavery ? . . . . And what sort of workmanship could we ex 
pect from such hard-driven animals ? . . . . Many of them 
will execute as much work in four days as a Frenchman will in 
five or six. But if Englishmen are to be eternal drudges, tis 
to be feared they will degenerate below the Frenchmen. As 
our people are famed for bravery in war, do we not say that it 
is owing to good English roast beef and pudding in their bellies,, 
as well as their constitutional spirit of liberty ? And why may 
not the superior ingenuity and dexterity of our artists and 

Taxation, &c., London, 1770." He had already dealt with this subject in his earlier 
work : " Considerations on Taxes." London, 1765. On the same side follows 
Polonius Arthur Young, the unutterable statistical prattler. Among the defenders 
of the working classes the foremost are : Jacob Vanderlint, in: " Money answers all 
things." London, 1734 ; the Rev. Nathaniel Forster, D.D., in "An Enquiry into the 
Causes of the Present Price of Provisions," London, 1766 ; Dr Price, and especially 
Postlethwayt, as well in the supplement to his "Universal Dictionary of Trade and 
Commerce," as in his " Great Britain s Commercial Interest explained and im 
proved." 2nd Edition, 1755. The facts themselves are confirmed by many other 
writers of the time, among others by Josiah Tucker. 

The Working Day. 261 

manufactures, be owing to that freedom and liberty to direct 
themselves in their own way, and I hope we shall never have 
them deprived of such privileges and that good living from 
whence their ingenuity no less than their courage may pro 
ceed." 1 Thereupon the author of the "Essay on Trade and 
Commerce " replies : " If the making of every seventh day an 
holiday is supposed to be of divine institution, as it implies 
the appropriating the other six days to labour" (he means 
capital as we shall soon see) " surely it will not be thought 
cruel to enforce it .... That mankind in general, are 
naturally inclined to ease and indolence, we fatally experience 
to be true, from the conduct of our manufacturing populace, 
who do not labour, upon an average, above four days in a week, 

unless provisions happen to be ver}^ dear Put all the 

necessaries of the poor under one denomination ; for instance, 
call them all wheat, or suppose that .... the bushel of wheat 
shall cost five shillings and that he (a manufacturer) earns 
a shilling by his labour, he then would be obliged to work 
five days only in a week. If the bushel of wheat should cost 
but four shillings, he would be obliged to work but four days ; 
but as wages in this kingdom are much higher in proportion to 
the price of necessaries. . . . the manufacturer, who labours four 
days, has a surplus of money to live idle with the rest of the 
week .... I hope I have said enough to make it appear 
that the moderate labour of six days in a week is no slavery. 
Our labouring people do this, and to all appearance are the 
happiest of all our labouring poor,* but the Dutch do this in 
manufactures, and appear to be a very happy people. The 
French do so, when holidays do not intervene. 8 But our popu 
lace have adopted a notion, that as Englishmen they enjoy 
a birthright privilege of being more free and independent than 
in any country in Europe. Now this idea, as far as it may 
affect the bravery of our troops, may be of some use ; but the 

1 Postlethwayt, 1. c., " First Preliminary Discourse," p. 14. 

2 " An Essay," &c. He himself relates on p. 96 wherein the " happiness " of th 
English agricultural labourer already in 1770 consisted. " Their powers are always 
upon the stretch, they cannot lire che "->er than they do, nor -work harder." 

3 Protestantism, by changing almost all the traditional holidays into workdays, 
plays an important part in the genesis of capital. 

262 Capitalist Production. 

less the manufacturing poor have of it, certainly the better for 
themselves and for the State. The labouring people should 
never think themselves independent of their superiors. .... 
It is extremely dangerous to encourage mobs in a commercial 
state like ours, where, perhaps, seven parts out of eight of the 
whole, are people with little or no property. The cure will 
not be perfect, till our manufacturing poor are contented to 
labour six days for the same sum which they now earn in four 
days." To this end, and for " extirpating idleness, debauchery 
and excess," promoting a spirit of industry, " lowering the price 
of labour in our manufactories, and easing the lands of the 
heavy burden of poor s rates," our " faithful Eckart " of capital 
proposes this approved device : to shut up such labourers as 
become dependent on public support, in a word, paupers, in 
" an ideal workhouse" Such ideal workhouse must be made a 
" House of Terror," and not an asylum for the poor, " where they 
are to be plentifully fed, warmly and decently clothed, and where 
they do but little work." 3 In this " House of Terror," this 
"ideal workhouse, the poor shall work 14 hours in a day, 
allowing proper time for meals, in such manner that there shall 
remain 1 2 hours of neat-labour."* 

Twelve working hours daily in the Ideal Workhouse, in the 
" House of Terror " of 1770 ! 63 years later, in 1833, when the 
English Parliament reduced the working day for children of 
13 to 18, in four branches of industry to 12 full hours, the 
judgment day of English Industry had dawned ! In 1852, 
when Louis Bonaparte sought to secure his position with the 
bourgeoisie by tampering with the legal working day , the 
French people cried out with one voice " the law that limits 
the working day to 12 hours is the one good that has remained 
to us of the legislation of the Republic ! " 4 At Zurich the work 

1 " An Essay," &c., p. 15, 41, 96, 97, 55, 57, 69. Jacob Vanderlint, as early as 1734, 
declared that the secret of the out-cry of the capitalists as to the laziness of the 
working people was simply that they claimed for the same wages 6 days labour 
instead of 4. 

3 1. c. p. 242. 

8 1. c. " The French," he says, " laugh at our enthusiastic ideas of liberty." 1. c.p. 78. 

4 "They especially objected to work beyond the 12 hours per day, because the law 
which fixed those hours, is the only good which remains to them of the legislation of 
the Kepublic." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1856, p. 80.) The French 
Twelve hours Bill of September 5th, 1850, a bourgeois edition of the decree of the 

The Working Day. 263 

of children over 10, is limited to 12 hours ; in Aargau in 1862, 
the work of children between 13 and 16, was reduced from 
12J to 12 hours ; in Austria in 1860, for children between 14 
and 16, the same reduction was made. 1 " What a progress," since 
1770 ! Macaulay would shout with exultation ! 

The " House of Terror " for paupers of which the capitalistic 
soul of 1770 only dreamed, was realized a few years later in the 
shape of a gigantic " Workhouse for the industrial worker 
himself. It is called the Factory. And the ideal this time 
fades before the reality. 

ACTS, 1833 TO 1864. 

After capital had taken centuries in extending the working- 
day to its normal maximum limit, and then beyond this to the 
limit of the natural day of 12 hours, 1 there followed on the 
birth of machinism and modern industry in the last third of 

Provisional Government of March 2nd, 1848, holds in all workshops without exceptions. 
Before this law the working day in France was without definite limit. It lasted in 
the factories 14, 15, or more hours. See " Des classes ouvrieres en France, pendant 
1 annee 1848. Par M. Blanqui." M. Blanqui the economist, not the Kevolutionist, had 
been entrusted by the Government with an inquiry into the condition of the work 
ing class. 

1 Belgium is the model bourgeois state in regard to the regulation of the working 
day. Lord Howard of Welden, English Plenipotentiary at Brussels, reports to the 
Foreign Office, May 12th, 1862 : " M. Kogier, the minister, informed me that 
children s labour is limited neither by a general law nor by any local regulations ; 
that the Government, during the last three years, intended in every session to pro 
pose a bill on the subject, but always found an insuperable obstacle in the jealous 
opposition to any legislation in contradiction with the principle of perfect freedom of 

3 " It is certainly much to be regretted that any class of persons should toil 12 hours 
a day, which, including the time for their meals and for going to and returning from 
their work, amounts, in fact, to 14 of the 24 hoxirs .... Without entering into the 
question of health, no one one will hesitate, I think, to admit that, in a moral point 
of view, so entire an absorption of the time of the working classes, without intermission, 
from the early age of 13, and in trades not subject to restriction, much younger, must 
be extremely prejudicial, and is an evil greatly to be deplored .... For the sake, 
therefore, of public morals, of bringing up an orderly population, and of giving the 
great body of the people a reasonable enjoyment of life, it is much to be desired that 
in all trades some portion of every working day should be reserved for rest and leisure." 
(Leonard Homer in Reports of Insp. of Fact., Dec., 1841.) 

264 Capitalist Production. 

the 18th century, a violent encroachment like that of an 
avalanche? in its intensity and extent. All bounds of morals 
and nature, age and sex, day and night, were broken down. 
Even the ideas of day and night, of rustic simplicity in the old 
statutes, became so confused that an English judge, as late as 
1860, needed a quite Talmudic sagacity to explain "judicially 
what was day and what was night. 1 Capital celebrated its 

As soon as the working class, stunned at first by the noise 
and turmoil of the new system of production, recovered, in 
some measure, its senses, its resistance began, and first in the 
native land of machinism, in England. For 30 years, however, 
the concessions conquered by the workpeople were purely 
nominal. Parliment passed 5 Labour Laws between 1802 and 
1833, but was shrewd enough not to vote a penny for their 
carrying out, for the requisite officials, &c. a 

They remained a dead letter. " The fact is, that prior to the 
Act of 1833, young persons and children were worked all night, 
all day, or both ad libitum" 3 

A normal working day for modern industry only dates from 
the Factory Act of 1833, which included cotton, wool, fiax, and 
silk factories. Nothing is more characteristic of the spirit of 
capital than the history of the English Factory Acts from 1833 
to 1864. .... 

The Act of 1833 declares the ordinary factory working day to 
be from half-past five in the morning to half-past eight in the 
evening, and within these limits, a period of 15 hours, it is law 
ful to employ young persons (i.e., persons between 13 and 18 years 

1 See "Judgment of Mr. J. H. Otwey, Belfast. Hilary Sessions, County Antrim, 

2 It is very characteristic of the regime of Louis Philippe, the bourgeois king, that 
the one Factory Act passed during his reign, that of March 22nd, 1841, was never 
put in force. And this law only dealt with child-labour. It fixed 8 hours a day for 
children between 8 and 12, 12 hours for children between 12 and 16, &c., with many 
exceptions which allow night-work even for children 8 years old. The supervision 
and enforcement of this law are, in a country where every mouse is under police 
administration, left to the good-will of the amis du commerce. Only since 1853, 
in one single department the De"partement du Nord has a paid government inspector 
been appointed. Not less characteristic of the development of French society, 
generally, is the fact, that Louis Philippe s law stood solitary among the all-embracing 
mass of French laws, till the Revolution of 1848. 

s "Report of Insp. of Fact., 1 SOth April, 18GO, p. 50. 

The Working Day. 265 

of age), at any time of the day, provided no one individual 
young person should work more than 12 hours in any one day, 
except in certain cases especially provided for. The 6th section 
of the Act provided : " That there shall be allowed in the course 
of every day not less than one and a half hours for meals to 
every such person restricted as hereinbefore provided." The 
employment of children under 9, with exceptions mentioned 
later, was forbidden ; the work of children between 9 and 13 
was limited to 8 hours a day, night work, i.e., according to this 
Act, work between 8.30 p.m. and 5.30 a.m., was forbidden for 
all persons between 9 and 18. 

The law-makers were so far from wishing to trench on the 
freedom of capital to exploit adult labour-power, or, as they 
called it, " the freedom of labour," that they created a special 
system in order to prevent the Factory Acts from having a 
consequence so outrageous. 

" The great evil of the factory system as at present con 
ducted," says the first report of the Central Board of the Com 
mission of June 28th, 1833, " has appeared to us to be that it 
entails the necessity of continuing the labour of children to 
the utmost length of that of the adults. The only remedy for 
this evil, short of the limitation of the labour of adults, which 
would, in our opinion, create an evil greater than that which is 
sought to be remedied, appears to be the plan of working 
double sets of children." . . . Under the name of System 
of Relays, this " plan " was therefore carried out, so that, e.g., 
from 5.30 a.m. until 1.30 in the afternoon, one set of children 
between 9 and 13, and from 1.30 p.m. to 8.30 in the evening 
another set were " put to," &c. 

In order to reward the manufacturers for having, in the 
most barefaced way, ignored all the Acts as to children s labour 
passed during the last twenty-two years, the pil] was yet 
further gilded for them. Parliament decreed that after March 
1st, 1834, no child under 11, after March 1st, 1835, no child 
under 12, and after March 1st, 1836, no child under 13, was to 
work more than eight hours in a factory. This " liberalism," 
so full of consideration for " capital," was the more noteworthy 
as, Dr. Farre, Sir A. Carlisle, Sir B. Brodie, Sir C. Bell, Mr. 

266 Capitalist Production. 

Guthrie, &c., in a word, the most distinguished physicians and 
surgeons in London, had declared in their evidence before the 
House of Commons, that there was danger in delay. Dr. 
Farre expressed himself still more coarsely. " Legislation is 
necessary for the prevention of death, in any form in which it 
ean be prematurely inflicted, and certainly this ({.., the factory 
method) must be viewed as a most cruel mode of inflicting it." 

That same " reformed " Parliament, which in its delicate con 
sideration for the manufacturers, condemned children under 13, 
for years to come, to 72 hours of work per week in the Factory 
Hell, on the other hand, in the Emancipation Act, which also 
administered freedom drop by drop, forbade the planters, from 
the outset, to work any negro slave more than 45 hours a 

But in no wise conciliated, capital now began a noisy agitation 
that went on for several years. It turned chiefly on the age of 
those who, under the name of children, were limited to 8 hours 
work, and were subject to a certain amount of compulsory 
education. According to capitalistic anthropology, the age of 
childhood ended at 10, or at the outside, at 11. The more 
nearly the time approached for the coming into full force of 
the Factory Act, the fatal year 1836, the more wildly raged 
the mob of manufacturers. They managed, in fact, to intimidate 
the government to such an extent that in 1835 it proposed to 
lower the limit of the age of childhood from 13 to 12. In the 


meantime the pressure from without grew more threatening. 
Courage failed the House of Commons. It refused to throw 
children of IS under the Juggernaut Car of capital for more 
than 8 hours a day, and the Act of 1833 came into full operation. 
It remained unaltered until June, 1844. 

In the ten years during which it regulated factory work, 
first in part, and then entirely, the official reports of the factory 
inspectors teem with complaints as to the impossibility of 
putting the Act into force. As the law of 1833 left it optional 
with the lords of capital during the 15 hours, from 5.30 a.m. to 
8.30 p.m., to make every " young person," and " every child 
begin, break off, resume, or end his 12 or 8 hours at any 
moment they liked, and also permitted them to assign to 

The Working Day. 267 

different persons, different times for meals, these gentlemen 
soon discovered a new " system of relays," by which the labour- 
horses were not changed at fixed stations, but were constantly 
re-harnessed at changing stations. We do not pause longer on 
the beauty of this system, as we shall have to return to it later. 
But this much is clear at the first glance : that this system 
annulled the whole Factory Act, not only in the spirit, but in 
the letter. How could factory inspectors, with this complex 
book-keeping in respect to each individual child or young 
person, enforce the legally determined work time and the 
granting of the legal meal-times ? In a great many of the 
factories, the old brutalities soon blossomed out again un 
punished. In an interview with the Home Secretary (1844), 
the factory inspectors demonstrated the impossibility of any 
control under the newly invented relay system. 1 In the mean 
time, however, circumstances had greatly changed. The factory 
hands, especially since 1838, had made the Ten Hours Bill their 
economical, as they had made the Charter their political, 
election-cry. Some of the manufacturers, even, who had 
managed their factories in conformity with the Act of 1833, 
overwhelmed Parliament with memorials on the immoral com 
petition of their false brethren whom greater impudence, or 
more fortunate local circumstances, enabled to break the law. 
Moreover, however much the individual manufacturer might 
give the rein to his old lust for gain, the spokesmen and 
political leaders of the manufacturing class ordered a change 
of front and of speech towards the workpeople. They had 
entered upon the contest for the repeal of the Corn Laws, and 
needed the workers to help them to victory. They promised, 
therefore, not only a double-sized loaf of bread, but the enact 
ment of the Ten Hours Bill in the Free Trade millenium. 8 Thus 
they still less dared to oppose a measure intended only to make 
the law of 1833 a reality. Threatened in their holiest interest, 
the rent of land, the Tories thundered with philanthropic in 
dignation against the " nefarious practices " * of their foes. 

1 " Kept, of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1849, p. 6. 
" Kept, of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1848, p. 98. 

3 Leonard Homer uses the expression c nefarious practices " in his official reports. 
(" Report of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1859, p. 7.) 

268 Capitalist Production. 

This was the origin of the additional Factory Act of June 
7th, 1844. It came into effect on September 10th, 1844. It 
places under protection a new category of workers, viz., the 
women over 18. They were placed in every respect on the 
same footing as the young persons, their work time limited to 
twelve hours, their night-labour forbidden, &c. For the first 
time, legislation saw itself compelled to control directly and 
officially the labour of adults. In the Factory Report of 1844- 
1845, it is said with irony : " No instances have come to my 
knowledge of adult women having expressed any regret at 
their rights being thus far interfered with." * The working time 
of children under 13 was reduced to 6J, and in certain circum 
stances to 7 hours a-day. 2 

To get rid of the abuses of the " spurious relay-system," the 
law established besides others the following important regula 
tions : " That the hours of work of children and young persons 
shall be reckoned from the time when any child or young 
person shall begin to work in the morning." So that if A, 
4.g. t begins work at 8 in the morning, and B at 10, B s work 
day must nevertheless end at the same hour as A s. " The 
time shall be regulated by a public clock," for example, the 
nearest railway clock, by which the factory clock is to be set. 
The occupier is to hang up a " legible printed notice stating 
the hours for the beginning and ending of work and the times 
allowed for the several meals. Children beginning work before 
12 noon may not be again employed after 1 p.m. The after 
noon shift must therefore consist of other children than those 
employed in the morning. Of the hour and a half for meal 
times, " one hour thereof at the least shall be given before 
three of the clock in the afternoon. . . . and at the same 
period of the day. No child or young person shall be employed 
more than five hours before 1 p.m. without an interval for meal 
time of at least 30 minutes. No child or young person [or 
female] shall be employed or allowed to remain in any room in 
which any manufacturing process is then [i.e., at meal times] 
carried on," &c. 

1 " Kept.," &c., 30th Sept., 1844, p. 15. 

2 The Act allows children to be employed for 10 hours if they do not work day after 
day, but only on alternate days. In the main, this clause remained inoperative. 

The Working Day. 269 

It has been seen that these minutiae, which, with military 
uniformity, regulate by stroke of the clock the times, limits, 
pauses of the work, were not at all the products of Parlia 
mentary fancy. They developed gradually out of circum 
stances as natural laws of the modern mode of production. 
Their formulation, official recognition, and proclamation by the 
State, were the result of a long struggle of classes. One of 
their first consequences was that in practice the working day 
of the adult males in factories became subject to the same 
limitations, since in most processes of production the co-opera 
tion of the children, young persons, and women is indispens 
able. On the whole, therefore, during the period from 1844? 
to 1847, the 12 hours working day became general and 
uniform in all branches of industry under the Factory Act. 

The manufacturers, however, did not allow this " progress " 
without a compensating " retrogression/ At their instigation 
the House of Commons reduced the minimum age for exploit 
able children from 9 to 8, in order to assure that additional 
supply of factory children which is due to capitalists, accord 
ing to divine and human law. 1 

The years 1846-47 are epoch-making in the economic history 
of England. The Repeal of the Corn Laws, and of the duties 
on cotton and other raw material ; free trade proclaimed as the 
guiding star of legislation ; in a word, the arrival of the mil- 
lenium. On the other hand, in the same years, the Chartist 
movement and the 10 hours agitation reached their highest 
point. They found allies in the Tories panting for revenge. 
Despite the fanatical opposition of the army of perjured Free 
traders, with Bright and Cobden at their head, the Ten Hours 
Bill, struggled for so long, went through Parliament. 

The new Factory Act of June 8th, 1847, enacted that on 
July 1st, 1847, there should be a preliminary shortening of the 
working day for " young persons " (from 13 to 18), and all 
females to 11 hours, but that on May 1st, 1848, there should 
be a definite limitation of the working day to 10 hours. In 

1 " As a reduction in their hours of work would cause a larger number (of children) 
to be employed, it was thought that the additional supply of children from 8 to 9- 
years of age would meet the increased demand " (I.e., p. 13). 

270 Capitalist Production. 

other respects, the Act only amended and completed the Acts 
of 1833 and 1844. 

Capital now entered upon a preliminary campaign in order 
to hinder the Act from coming into full force on May 1st, 1848. 
And the workers themselves, under the pretence that they had 
been taught by experience, were to help in the destruction of 
their own work. The moment was cleverly chosen. " It must 
be remembered, too, that there has been more than two years 
of great suffering (in consequence of the terrible crisis of 1846- 
47) among the factory operatives, from many mills having 
worked short time, and many being altogether closed. A con 
siderable number of the operatives must therefore be in very 
narrow circumstances ; many, it is to be feared, in debt ; so 
that it might fairly have been presumed that at the present 
time they would prefer working the longer time, in order to 
make up for past losses, perhaps to pay off debts, or get their 
furniture out of pawn, or replace that sold, or to get a new 
supply of clothes for themselves and their families." * 

The manufacturers tried to aggravate the natural effect of 
these circumstances by a general reduction of wages by 10%. 
This was done, so to say, to celebrate the inauguration of the 
new Free Trade era. Then followed a further reduction of 8J% 
as soon as the working day was shortened to 11, and a reduc 
tion of double that amount as soon as it was finally shortened 
to 10 hours. Whererer, therefore, circumstances allowed it, a 
reduction of wages of at least 25/ took place.* Under such 
favourably prepared conditions the agitation among the factory 
workers for the repeal of the Act of 1847 was begun. Neither 
lies, bribery, nor threats were spared in this attempt. But all 
was in vain. Concerning the half-dozen petitions in which 
workpeople were made to complain of " their oppression by 
the Act," the petitioners themselves declared under oral ex 
amination, that their signatures had been extorted from them. 
" They felt themselves oppressed, but not exactly by the 


i " Rep. of Inap. of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1848, p. 16. 

* " I found that men who had been getting 10s. a week, had had la. taken off for 
a reduction in the rate of 10 per cent, and Is. 6d. off the remaining 9s. for the reduc 
tion in time, together 2s. Cd., and notwithstanding this, many of them said they 
would rather work 10 hours." 1. c. 

The Working Day. 271 

Factory Act." A But if the manufacturers did not succeed in 
making the workpeople speak as they wished, they them 
selves shrieked all the louder in press and Parliament in the 
name of the workpeople. They denounced the Factory 
Inspectors as a kind of revolutionary commissioners like those 
of the French National Convention ruthlessly sacrificing the 
unhappy factory workers to their humanitarian crotchet. This 
manoeuvre also failed. Factory Inspector Leonard Horner 
conducted in his own person, and through his sub-inspectors, 
many examinations of witnesses in the factories of Lancashire. 
About 70/ of the workpeople examined declared in favour 
of 10 hours, a much smaller percentage in favour of 11, and an 
altogether insignificant minority for the old 12 hours. 1 

Another "friendly dodge was to make the adult males 
work 12 to 15 hours, and then to blazon abroad this fact as 
the best proof of what the proletariat desired in its heart of 
hearts. But the "ruthless" Factory Inspector Leonard Horner 
was again to the fore. The majority of the "over- timers" 
declared : " They would much prefer working ten hours for 
less wages, but that they had no choice ; that so many were 
out of employment (so many spinners getting very low wages 
by having to work as piecers, being unable to do better), that 
if they refused to work the longer time, others would immedi 
ately get their places, so that it was a question with them of 
agreeing to work the long time, or of being thrown out of 
employment altogether." * 

The preliminary campaign of capital thus came to grief, and 
the Ten Hours Act came into force May 1st, 1848. But mean 
while the fiasco of the Chartist party whose leaders were 

1 Though I signed it [the petition], I said at the time I was putting my hand to a 
wrong thing. Then why did you put your hand to it? Because I should have 
been turned off if I had refused. Whence it would appear that this petitioner felt 
himself oppressed, but not exactly by the Factory Act." 1. c. p. 102. 

8 p. 17, 1. c. In Mr. Homer s district 10,270 adult male labourers were thus 
examined in 101 factories. Their evidence is to be fovjid in the appendix to the 
Factory Reports for the half-year ending October 1848. These examinations furnish 
valuable material in other connexions also. 

3 1. c. See the evidence collected by Leonard Horner himself, Nos. 69, 70, 71, 72, 
92, 93, and that collected by Sub-Inspector A., Nos. 51, 52, 58, 59, 62, 70, of the 
Appendix. One manufacturer, too, t^Us the plain truth. See No. 14, and No. 
265, 1. c. 

272 Capitalist Production. 

imprisoned, and whose organisation was dismembered, had 
shaken the confidence of the English working class in its own 
strength. Soon after this the June insurrections in Paris and 
its bloody suppression united, in England as on the Continent, 
all fractions of the ruling classes, landlords and capitalists, 
stock-exchange wolves and shop-keepers, Protectionists and 
Free-traders, government and opposition, priests and free 
thinkers, young whores and old nuns, under the common cry 
for the salvation of Property, E-eligion, the Family and 
Society. The working class was everywhere proclaimed, 
placed under a ban, under a virtual law of suspects. The 
manufacturers had no need any longer to restrain themselves. 
They broke out in open revolt not only against the Ten Hours 
Act, but against the whole of the legislation that since 1833 
had aimed at restricting in some measure the " free " exploita 
tion of labour-power. It was a pro-slavery rebellion in minia 
ture, carried on for over two years with a cynical recklessness, 
a terrorist energy all the cheaper because the rebel capitalist 
risked nothing except the skin of his " hands." 

To understand that which follows we must remember that 
the Factory Acts of 1833, 1844, and 1847 were all three in 
force so far as the one did not amend the other : that not one 
of these limited the working day of the male worker over 18, 
and that since 1833 the 15 hours from 5.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. 
had remained the legal " day," within the limits of which 
at first the 12, and later the 10 hours labour of young 
persons and women had to be performed under the prescribed 

The manufacturers began by here and there discharging a 
part of, in many cases half of, the young persons and women 
employed by them, and then, for the adult males, restoring 
the almost obsolete night-work. The Ten Hours Act, they 
cried, leaves no other alternative. 1 

Their second step dealt with the legal pauses for meals. 
Let us hear the Factory Inspectors. " Since the restriction of 
the hours of work to ten, the factory occupiers maintain, 
although they have not yet practically gone the whole length, 

* Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1848, p. 133, 134. 

The Working Day. 273 

that supposing the hours of work to be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 
they fulfil the provisions of the statutes by allowing an hour 
before 9 a.m. and half-an-hour after 7 p.m. [for meals]. In 
some cases they now allow an hour, or half an hour for dinner, 
insisting at the same time, that they are not bound to allow 
any part of the hour and a half in the course of the factory 
working-day." 1 The manufacturers maintained therefore that 
the scrupulously strict provisions of the Acts of 1844 with 
regard to meal times only gave the operatives permission to eat 
and drink before coming into, and after leaving the factory - 
i.e., at home. And why should not the workpeople eat their 
dinner before 9 in the morning ? The crown lawyers, how 
ever, decided that the prescribed meal times " must be in the 
interval during the working hours, and that it will not be 
lawful to work for 10 hours continuously, from 9 a.m. to 7 
p.m., without any interval."* 

After these pleasant demonstrations, Capital preluded its 
revolt by a step which agreed with the letter of the law of 
1844, and was therefore legal. 

The Act of 1844 certainly prohibited the employment after 

1 p.m. of such children, from 8 to 13, as had been employed 
before noon. But it did not regulate in any way the 6J 
hours work of the childr&n whose work- time began at 12 mid 
day or later. Children of 8 might, if they began work at noon, 
be employed from 12 to 1, 1 hour ; from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, 

2 hours ; from 5 to 8.30 in the evening, 3 J hours ; in all, the 
legal gi hours. Or better still. In order to make their work 

^j & 

coincide with that of the adult male labourers up to 8.30 p.m., 
the manufacturers only had to give them no work till 2 in the 
afternoon ; they could then keep them in the factory without 
intermission till 8.30 in the evening. " And it is now expressly 
admitted that the practice exists in England from the desire 
of mill-owners to have their machinery at work for more than 
10 hours a-day, to keep the children at work with male 
adults after all the young persons and women have left, 
and until 8.30 p.m., if the factory-owners choose." 8 Workmen 

1 Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1848, p. 47. 
Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1848, p. 130. 
* Reports, &c v .. c., p. 142i 


274 Capitalist Production. 

and factory inspectors protested on hygienic and moral grounds, 
but Capital answered : 

" My deeds upon my head ! I crave the law, 
The penalty and forfeit of my bond." 

In fact, according to statistics laid before the House of Com 
mons on July 26th, 1850, in spite of all protests, on July 15th, 
1850, 3,742 children were subjected to this " practice in 257 
factories. 1 Still, this was not enough. The lynx eye of 
Capital discovered that the Act of 1844 did not allow 5 hours 
work before mid-day without a pause of at least 30 minutes for 
refreshment, but prescribed nothing of the kind for work after 
mid-day. Therefore, it claimed and obtained the enjoyment 
not only of making children of 8 drudge without intermission 
from 2 to 8.30 p.m., but also of making them hunger during 

that time. 

" Ay, his heart, 
So says the bond." 3 

This Shy lock -clinging to the letter of the law of 1844, so far 
as it regulated children s labour, was but to lead up to an open 
revolt against the same law, so far as it regulated the labour of 
" young persons and women." It will be remembered that the 
abolition of the " false relay system " was the chief aim and 
object of that law. The masters began their revolt with the 
simple declaration that the sections of the Act of 1844 which 
prohibited the ad libitum use of young persons and women in 
such short fractions of the day of 15 hours as the employer 
chose, were " comparatively harmless so long as the work- 
time was fixed at 12 hours. But under the Ten Hours Act 
they were a " grievous hardship." 8 They informed the in- 

1 Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1850, pp. 5, 6. 

8 The nature of capital remains the same in its developed as in its undeveloped 
form. In the code which the influence of the slave-owners, shortly before the out 
break of the American civil war, imposed on the territory of New Mexico, it is said 
that the labourer, in as much as the capitalist has bought his labour-power, "is his 
(the capitalist s) money." The same view was current among the Roman patricians. 
The money they had advanced to the plebeian debtor had been transformed vid the 
means of subsistence into the flesh and blood of the debtor. This " flesh and olood 
were, therefore, "their money." Hence, the Shylock-law of the Ten Tables. 
Linguet s hypothesis that the patrician creditors from time to time prepared, beyond 
the Tiber, banquets of debtors flesh, may remain as undecided as that of Daumer on 
the Christian Eucharist. 

3 Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1848, r> 28 

The Working Day. 275 

specters in the coolest manner that they should place them 
selves above the letter of the law, and re-introduce the old 
system on their own account. 1 They were acting in the interests 
of the ill-advised operatives themselves, " in order to be able to 
pay them higher wages." " This was the only possible plan by 
which to maintain, under the Ten Hours Act, the industrial 
supremacy of Great Britain." " Perhaps it may be a little 
difficult to detect irregularities under the relay system ; but 
what of that ? Is the great manufacturing interest of this 
country to be treated as a secondary matter in order to save 
some little trouble to Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors of 
Factories ? " 2 

All these shifts naturally were of no avail. The Factory 
Inspectors appealed to the Law Courts. But soon such a cloud 
of dust in the way of petitions from the masters overwhelmed 
the Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, that in a circular of 
August 5th, 1848, he recommends the inspectors not * to lay 
informations against mill-owners for a breach of the letter of 
the Act, or for employment of young persons by relays in cases 
in which there is no reason to believe that such young persons 
have been actually employed for a longer period than that 
sanctioned by law." Hereupon, Factory Inspector J. Stuart 
allowed the so-called relay system during the 15 hours of the 
factory day throughout Scotland, where it soon flourished again 
as of old. The English Factory Inspectors, on the other hand, 
declared that the Home Secretary had no power dictatorially 
to suspend the law, and continued their legal proceedings against 
the pro-slavery rebellion. 

But what was the good of summoning the capitalists when the 
Courts, in this case the country magistrates Cobbett s " Great 
Unpaid " acquitted them ? In these tribunals, the masters 
sat in judgment on themselves. An example. One Eskrigge, 
cotton-spinner, of the firm of Kershaw, Leese, &; Co., had laid 
before the Factory Inspector of his district the scheme of a 
relay system intended for his mill. Receiving a refusal, he at 
first kept quiet. A few months later, an individual named 
Robinson, also a cotton-spinner, and if not his Man Friday, at 

1 Thus, among others, Philanthropist Ashworthto Leonard Horner, in a disgusting 
Quaker letter. (Reports, &c., April, 1849, p. 4.) 

2 1. c., p. 140. 

2 7 6 Capitalist Production. 

all events related to Eskrigge, appeared before the borough 
magistrates of Stockport on a charge of introducing the identi 
cal plan of relays invented by Eskrigge. Four Justices sat, 
among them three cotton-spinners, at their head this same 
inevitable Eskrigge. Eskrigge acquitted Robinson, and now 
was of opinion that what was right for Robinson was fair for 
Eskrigge. Supported by his own legal decision, he introduced 
the system at once into his own factory. 1 Of course, the com 
position of this tribunal was in itself a violation of the law. 1 
These judicial farces, exclaims Inspector Howell, " urgently 
call for a remedy either that the law should be so altered as 
to be made to conform to these decisions, or that it should 
be administered by a less fallible tribunal, whose decisions 
would conform to the law. . . . when these cases are brought 
forward. I long for a stipendiary magistrate." 8 

The Crown lawyers declared the masters interpretation of 
the Act of 1848 absurd. But the Saviours of Society would 
not allow themselves to be turned from their purpose. Leonard 
Homer reports, " Having endeavoured to enforce the Act . . , 
by ten prosecutions in seven magisterial divisions, and having 
been supported by the magistrates in one case only. ... I con 
sidered it useless to prosecute more for this evasion of the law. 
That part of the Act of 1884 which was framed for securing uni 
formity in the hours of woik, ... is thus no longer in force in 
my district (Lancashire), Neither have the sub-inspectors or 
myself any means of satisfying ourselves, when we inspect a 
mill working by shifts, that the young persons and women 
are not working more than 10 hours a-day. ... In a return of 
the 30th April, ... of mill-owners working by shifts, the 
number amounts to 114, and has been for some time rapidly 
increasing. In general, the time of working the mill is ex 
tended to 13 J hours, from 6 a.m. to 7J p.m., ... in some 
instances it amounts to 15 hours, from 5J a.m. to 8J p.m."* 
Already, in December, 1848, Leonard Horner had a list of Go 
manufacturers and 29 overlookers who unanimously declared 

1 Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1849, pp. 21, 22. Of. like examples ibid. pp. 4, 5. 

2 By I. and II. Will. IV., ch. 24, s. 10, known as Sir John Hobhouse s Factory Act, 
it was forbidden to auy owner of a cotton-spinning or weaving mill, or the father, son, 
or brother of such owner, to act as Justice of the Peace in any inquiries that con/ 
corned the Factory Act. 

3 I.e. 4 Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1849, p. 5. 

The Working Day. 277 

that no system of supervision could, under this relay system, 
prevent enormous overwork. 1 Now, the same children and 
young persons were shifted from the spinning-room to the 
weaving-room, now, during 15 hours, from one factory to 
another. 1 How was it possible to control a system which, 
" under the guise of relays, is some one of the many plans for 
shuffling the hands about in endless vai-iety, and shifting 
the hours of work and of rest for different individuals through 
out the day, so that you may never have one complete set of 
hands working together in the same room at the same time." 3 

But altogether independently of actual overwork, this so- 
called relay-system was an offspring of capitalistic fantasy 
such as Fourier,in his humorous sketches of " Courtes Seances," 
has never surpassed, except that the " attractionof labour " was 
changed into the attraction of capital. Look, for example, at 
those schemes of the masters which the " respectable " press 
praised as models of " what a reasonable degree of care and 
method can accomplish." The personnel of the workpeople 
was sometimes divided into from 12 to 14 categories, which 


themselves constantly changed and rechanged their constituent 
parts. During the 15 hours of the factory day, capital dragged 
in the labourer now for 30 minutes, now for an hour, and then 
pushed him out again, to drag him into the factory and to 
thrust him out afresh, hounding him hither and thither, in 
scattered shreds of time, without ever losing hold of him until 
the full 10 hours work was done. As on the stage, the same 
persons had to appear in turns in the different scenes of the 
different acts. But as an actor during the whole course of 
the play belongs to the stage, so the operatives, during 15 
hours, belonged to the factory, without reckoning the time 
for going and coming. Thus the hours of rest were turned 
into hours of enforced idleness, which drove the youths to 
the pot-house, and the girls to the brothel. At every new 
trick that the capitalist, from day to day, hit upon for keep 
ing his machinery going 12 or 15 hours without increasing 
the number of his hands, the worker had to swallow his meals 
now in this fragment of time, now in that. At the time of the 

1 Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1849, p. 6. 
8 Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1849, p. 21. 
* Reports, &c., for 1st October. 1848, p. 95. 

278 Capitalist Production. 

10 hours agitation, the masters cried out that the working mob 
petitioned in the hope of obtaining 12 hours wages for 10 
hours work. Now they reversed the medal. They paid 10 
hours wages for 12 or 15 hours lordship over labour-power. 1 
This was the gist of the matter, this the masters interpretation 
of the 10 hours law ! These were the same unctuous free 
traders, perspiring with the love of humanity, who for full 10 
years, during the Anti-Corn Law agitation, had preached to 
the operatives, by a reckoning of pounds, shillings, and pence r 
that with free importation of corn, and with the means pos 
sessed by English industry, 10 hours labour would be quite 
enough to enrich the capitalists. 2 This revolt of capital, after 
two years, was at last crowned with victory by a decision of 
one of the four highest Courts of Justice in England, the 
Court of Exchequer, which in a case brought before it on 
February 8th, 1850, decided that the manufacturers were 
certainly acting against the sense of the Act of 1844, but that 
this Act itself contained certain words that rendered it mean 
ingless. " By this decision, the Ten Hours Act was abolished."* 
A crowd of masters, who until then had been afraid of using 
the relay-system for young persons and women, now took it up 
heart and soul. 4 

But on this apparently decisive victory of capital, followed 
at once a revulsion. The workpeople had hitherto offered a 
passive, although inflexible and unremitting resistance. They 
now protested in Lancashire and Yorkshire in threatening 
meetings. The pretended Ten Hours Act, was thus simple 
humbug, parliamentary cheating, had never existed! The 
Factory Inspectors urgently warned the Government that the 
antagonism of classes had arrived at an incredible tension. 
Some of the masters themselves murmured : " On account of 

1 See Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1849, p. 6, and the detailed explanation of the 
" shifting system," by Factory Inspectors Howell and Saunders, in "Reports, &c., for 
31st October, 1848. See also the petition to the Queen from the clergy of Ash ton 
and vicinity, in the spring of 1849, against the "shift system." 

5 Of. for example, " The Factory Question and the Ten Hours Bill." By R. II, 
Greg, 1837. 

3 F. Engels : "The English Ten Hours Bill." (In the " Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 
Politisch-oekonomische Revue." Edited by K. Marx. April number, 1850, p. 13. ) 
The same " high ; Court of Justice discovered, during the American Civil War, a 
verbal ambiguity which exactly reversed the meaning of the law against the arming 
of pirate ships. 

4 Rep., &c., for 30th April, 1850. 

The Working Day. 279 

the contradictory decisions of the magistrates, a condition of 
things altogether abnormal and anarchical obtains. One law 
holds in Yorkshire, another in Lancashire; one law in one parish 
of Lancashire, another in its immediate neighbourhood. The 
manufacturer in large towns could evade the law, the manu 
facturer in country districts could not find the people necessary 
for the relay-system, still less for the shifting of hands from 
one factory to another," &c. And the first birthright of capital 
is equal exploitation of labour-power by all capitalists. 

Under these circumstances a compromise between masters 
and men was effected that received the seal of Parliament in 
the additional Factory Act of August 5th, 1850. The working 
day for " young persons and women," was raised from 10 to 
10J hours for the first five days of the week, and was shortened 
to 7J on the Saturday. The work was to go on between 6 a.m. 
and 6 p.m., 1 with pauses of not less than \\ hours for meal 
times, these meal-times to be allowed at one and the same time 
for all, and conformably to the conditions of 1844. By this an 
end was put to the relay -system once for all. 2 For children s 
labour, the Act of 1844 remained in force. 

One set of masters, this time as before, secured to itself 
special seigneurial rights over the children of the proletariat. 
These were the silk manufacturers. In 1833 they had howled 
out in threatening fashion, " if the liberty of working children 
of any age for 10 hours a day were taken away, it would stop 
their works." 8 It would be impossible for them to buy a suffi 
cient number of children over 13. They extorted the privilege 
they desired. The pretext was shown on subsequent investiga 
tion to be a deliberate lie. 4 It did not, however, prevent them, 
during 10 years, from spinning silk 10 hours a day out of the 
blood of little children who had to be placed upon stools for 
the performance of their work. The Act of 1844 certainly 
" robbed " them of the s( liberty " of employing children under 
11 longer than 6J hours a day. But it secured to them, on the 
other hand, the privilege of working children between 11 and 

1 In winter, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. may be substituted. 

2 " The present law (of 1850) was a compromise whereby the employed surrendered 
the benefit of the Ten Hours Act for the advantage of one uniform period for the 
commencement and termination of the labour of those whose labour is restricted." 
(Reports, &c., for 30th April, 1852, p. 14.) 

Reports, &c., for Sept., 1844, D. 13. L 0. 3 1. . 

2 80 

Capitalist Production 

13, 10 hours a day, and of annulling in their case the education 
made compulsory for all other factory children. This time the 
pretext was "the delicate texture of the fabric in which they 
were employed, requiring a lightness of touch, only to be 
acquired by their early introduction to these factories." 1 The 
children were slaughtered out-and-out for the sake of their 
delicate fingers, as in Southern Russia the horned cattle for the 
sake of their hide and tallow. At length, in 1850, the privilege 
granted in 1844 was limited to the departments of silk- twisting 
and silk-winding. But here, to make amends to capital bereft 
of its "freedom," the work time for children from 11 to 13 was 
raised from 10 to 10J hours. Pretext : " Labour in silk mills 
was lighter than in mills for other fabrics, and less likely in 
other respects also to be prejudicial to health." 2 Official 
medical inquiries proved afterwards that, on the contrary, " the 
average death-rate is exceedingly high in the silk districts, and 
amongst the female part of the population is higher even than 
it is in the cotton districts of Lancashire." 8 Despite the pro- 

n. c. 

* Reports, &c., for 31st Oct., 1861, p. 26. 

3 1. c., p. 27. On the whole the working population, subject to the Factory Act, 
has greatly improved physically. All medical testimony agrees on this point, and 
personal observation at different times has convinced me of it. Nevertheless, and 
exclusive of the terrible death-rate of children in the first years of their life, the 
official reports of Dr. Greenhow show the unfavourable health condition of the manu 
facturing districts as compared with "agricultural districts of normal health." A3 
evidence, take the following table from his 1861 report : 

of Adult 
Males en 
gaged in 

per 100,000 

Name of District. 

per 100,000 

of Adult 
Females en 
gaged in 

Kind of Female 































14 9 




17 2 


36 6 












Eight healthy agri 


cultural districts 


The Working Day. 281 

tests of the Factory Inspector, renewed every 6 months, the 
mischief continues to this hour. 1 

The Act of 1850 changed the 15 hours time from 6 a.m. tc 
8.30 p.m., into the 12 hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for "young 
persons and women " only. It did not, therefore, affect children 
who could always be employed for half an hour before and 2J 
hours after this period, provided the whole of their labour did 
not exceed 6 hours. Whilst the bill was under discussion, the 
Factory Inspectors laid before Parliament statistics of the in 
famous abuses due to this anomaly. To no purpose. In the 
background lurked the intention of screwing up, during pros 
perous years, the working day of adult males to 15 hours by 
the aid of the children. The experience of the three following 
years showed that such an attempt must come to grief against the 
resistance of the adult male operatives. The Act of 1850 was 
therefore finally completed in 1853 by forbidding the " employ 
ment of children in the morning before and in the evening after 
young persons and women." Henceforth with a few exceptions 
the Factory Act of 1850 regulated the working day of all 
workers in the branches of industry that come under it.* Since 
the passing of the first Factory Act half a century had elapsed. 1 

Factory legislation for the first time went beyond its original 
sphere in the " Printworks Act of 1845." The displeasure with 
which capital received this new "extravagance " speaks through 
every line of the Act. It limits the working day for children 

* It is well-known with what reluctance the English " free traders " gave up the 
protective duty on the silk manufacture. Instead of the protection against French 
importation, the absence of protection to English factory children now serves their 

2 During 1859 and 1860, the zenith years of the English cotton industry, some manu 
facturers tried, by the decoy bait of higher wages for orer-time, to reconcile the adult 
male operatives to an extension of the working day. The hand-mule spinners and 
self-actor minders put an end to the experiment by a petition to their employers in 
which they say, " Plainly speaking, our lives are to us a burthen ; and, while we are 
confined to the mills nearly two days a week more than the other operatives of the 
country, we feel like helots in the land, and that we are perpetuating a system 

injurious to ourselves and future generations This, therefore, is to 

give you most respectful notice that when we commence work again after the 
Christmas and New Year s holidays, we shall work 60 hours per week, and no more, 
or from six to six, with one hour and a half out." (Reports, &c., for 30th April, 
1860, p. 30.) 

3 On the means that the wording of this Act afforded for its violation cf. the Parlia 
mentary Return " Factory Regulations Act " (6th August, 1859), and in it Leonard 
Horner s " Suggestions for amending the Factory Acts to enable the Inspectors to 
prevent illegal working, now become very prevalent." 

282 Capitalist Production. 

from 8 to 13, and for women to 16 hours, between 6 a.m. and 
10 p.m., without any legal pause for meal times. It allows 
males over 13 to be worked at will day and night. 1 It is a 
Parliamentary abortion. 8 

However, the principle had triumphed with its victory in 
those great branches of industry which form the most character 
istic creation of the modern mode of production. Their 
wonderful development from 1853 to 1860, hand-in-hand with 
the physical and moral regeneration of the factory workers, 
struck the most purblind. The masters from whom the legal 
limitation and regulation had been wrung step by step after a 
civil war of half a century, themselves referred ostentatiously 
to the contrast with the branches of exploitation still " free."* 
The Pharisees of " political economy " now proclaimed the dis 
cernment of the necessity of a legally fixed working day as a 
characteristic new discovery of their " science." 4 It will be 
easily understood that after the factory magnates had resigned 
themselves and become reconciled to the inevitable, the power of 
resistance of capital gradually weakened, whilst at the same 
time the power of attack of the working class grew with the 
number of its allies in the classes of society not immediately 
interested in the question. Hence the comparatively rapid 
advance since 1860. 

The dye-works and bleach- works all came under the Factory 
Act of 1850 in 1860 ; 5 lace and stocking manufactures in 1861. 

1U Children of the age of 8 years and upwards, have, indeed, been employed from 
6a.m. to 9 p.m. during the last half year in my district." (Eeports, &c., for 31st 
October, 1857, p. 39.) 

* "The Printworks Act is admitted to be a failure, both with reference to its educa 
tional and protective provisions." (Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1862, p. 52.) 

Thus, e.g., E. Potter in a letter to the "Times " of March 24th, 1863. The 
"Times " reminded him of the manufacturers revolt against the Ten Hours Bill. 

4 Thus, among others, Mr. W. Newmarch, collaborator and editor of Tooke s "History 
of Prices." Is it a scientific advance to make cowardly concessions to public opinion? 

The Act passed in I860, determined that, in regard to dye and bleach-works, the 
working day should be fixed on August 1st, 1861, provisionally at 12 hours, and defin 
itely on August 1st, 1862, at 10 hours, i.e., at 10| hours for ordinary days, and 1\ for 
Saturday. Now, when the fatal year, 1862, came, the old farce was repeated. Be 
sides, the manufacturers petitioned Parliament to allow the employment of young 
persons and women for 12 hours during one year longer. "In the existing condition 
of the trade (the time of the cotton famine), it was greatly to the advantage of the 
operatives to work 12 hours per day, and make wages when they could. " A bill to 
this effect had been brought in, " and it was mainly due to the action of the operative 
bleachers in Scotland that the bill was abandoned." (Reports. c., for 31st October,. 

The Wot king Day. 283 

In consequence of the first report of the Commission on the 
employment of children (1863), the same fate was shared l>y 
the manufacturers of all earthenwares (not merely pottery), 
lucifer-matches, percussion-caps, cartridges, carpets, fustian- 
cutting, and many processes included under the name of 
" finishing." In the year 1863 bleaching in the open air J and 

1862, t>. 14-15.) Thus defeated by the very work-people, in whose name it pretended 
to speak, Capital discovered, with the help of lawyer spectacles, that the Act of 1SGO, 
drawn up, like all the Acts of Parliament for the "protection of labour," in equivocal 
phrases, gave them a pretext to exclude from its working the calenderers and fin 
ishers. English iurisprudence, ever the faithful servant of capital, sanctioned in the 
Court of Common Pleas this piece of pettifogging. "The operatives have been 
greatly disappointed . . . they have complained of overwork, and it is greatly to be 
regretted that the clear intention of the legislature should have failed by reason of a 
faulty definition." (1. c., p. 18.) 

i The " open-air bleachers " had evaded the law of 1860, by means of the lie that no 
women worked at it in the night. The lie was exposed by the Factory Inspectors, 
and at the same time Parliament was, by petitions from the operatives, bereft of 
its notions as to the cool meadow-fragrance, in which bleaching in the open-air was 
reported to take place. In this aerial bleaching, drying rooms were used at tempera 
tures of from 90 to 100 Fahrenheit, in which the work was done for the most part by 
girls. " Cooling" is the technical expression for their occasional escape from the dry 
ing-rooms into the fresh air. " Fifteen girls in stoves. Heat from 80 to 90 Q for 
linens, and 100 and upwards for cambrics. Twelve girls ironing and doing-up 
in a small room about 10 feet square, in the centre of which is a close stove. The 
girls stand round the stove, which throws out a terrific heat, and dries the cambrics 
rapidly for the ironers. The hours of work for these hands are unlimited. If busy, 
they work till 9 or 12 at night for successive nights." (Reports, &c., for 31st October, 
1862, p. 56.) A medical man states: "No special hours are allowed for cooling, but 
if the temperature gets too high, or the workers hands get soiled from perspiration, 

they are allowed to go out for a few minutes My experience, which is 

considerable, in treating the diseases of stove workers, compels me to express the 
opinion that their sanitary condition is by no means so high as that of the operatives 
in a spinning factory (and Capital, in its memorials to Parliament, had painted them 
as floridly healthy, after the manner of Rubens). The diseases most observable 
amongst them are phthisis, bronchitis, irregularity of uterine functions, hysteria iu 
its most aggravated forms, and rheumatism. All of these, I believe, are either 
directly or indirectly induced by the impure, overheated air of the apartments in 
which the hands are employed, and the want of sufficient comfortable clothing to 
protect them from the cold, damp atmosphere, in -".-inter, when going to their 
homes." (1.0. p. 56-57.) The Factory Inspectors remarl ed on the supplementary law 
of 1860, torn from these open-air bleachers : " The Act h-is not only failed to afford 
that protection to the workers which it appears to offer, but contains a clause .... ap 
parently so worded that, unless persons are detected working after 8 o clock at night 
they appear to come under no protective provisions at all, and if they do so work, the 
mode of proof is so doubtful that a conviction can scarcely follow." (1. c., p. 52.) 
" To all intents and purposes, therefore, as an Act for any benevolent or educational 
purpose, it is a failure ; since it can scarcely be called benevolent to permit, which is 
tantamount to compelling, women and children to work 14 hours a day with or without 
meals, as the case may be, and perhaps for longer hours than these, without limit as 
to age, without reference to sex, and without regard to the social habits of the 
families of the neighbourhood, in which such works (bleaching and dyeing) are situ 
ated." (Reports, <fec., for 30th April, 1863, p. 40.) 

284 Capitalist Production. 

baking were placed under special Acts, by -which, in the 
former, the labour of young persons and women during the 
night-time (from 8 in the evening to 6 in the morning), and in 
the latter, the employment of journeymen bakers under 18, 
between 9 in the evening and 5 in the morning were forbidden. 
We shall return to the later proposals of the same Commission, 
which threatened to deprive of their " freedom " all the impor 
tant branches of English Industry, with the exception of agri 
culture, mines, and the means of transport. 1 


The reader will bear in mind that the production of surplus- 
value, or the extraction of surplus-labour, is the specific end 
and aim, the sum and substance, of capitalist production, 
quite apart from any changes in the mode of production, which 
may arise from the subordination of labour to capital. He will 
remember that as far as we have at present gone, only the inde 
pendent labourer, and therefore only the labourer legally quali 
fied to act for himself, enters as a vendor of a commodity into a 
contract with the capitalist. If, therefore, in our historical 
sketch, on the one hand, modern industry; on the other, the 
labour of those who are physically and legally minors, play 
important parts, the former was to us only a special depart 
ment, and the latter only a specially striking example of labour 
exploitation. Without, however, anticipating the subsequent 
development of our inquiry, from the mere connexion of the 
Historic facts before us, it follows : 

First. The passion of capital for an unlimited and reckless 
extension of the working day, is first gratified in the industries 
earliest revolutionised by water-power, steam, and machinery, 
in those first creations of the modern mode of production, 
cotton, wool, flax, and silk spinning, and weaving. The changes 
in the material mode of production, and the corresponding 
changes in the social relations of the producers z gave rise first 

1 Note to the 2nd Ed. Since I860, when I wrote the above passages, a re-action 
has again set in. 

2 The conduct of each of these classes (capitalists and workmen) has been the 
result of the relative situation in which they have been placed." (Reports, &c., for 
31st October, 1848, p. 113.) 

The Working Day. 285 

to an extravagance beyond all bounds, and then in opposition 
to this, called forth a control on the part of Society which 
legally limits, regulates, and makes uniform the working day 
and its pauses. This control appears, therefore, during the 
first half of the nineteenth century simply as exceptional 
legislation. 1 As soon as this primitive dominion of the new 
mode of production was conquered, it was found that, in the 
meantime, not only had many other branches of production 
been made to adopt the same factory system, but that manu 
factures with more or Less obsolete methods, such as potteries, 
glass-making, &c., that old-fashioned handicrafts, like baking, 
and, Cnally, even that the so-called domestic industries, such 
as nail-making, 2 had long since fallen as completely under 
capitalist exploitation as the factories themselves. Legisla 
tion was, therefore, compelled to gradually get rid of its ex 
ceptional character, or where, as in England, it proceeds after 
the manner of the Roman Casuists, to declare any house in 
which work was done to be a factory. 8 

Second. The history of the regulation of the working day in 
certain branches of production, and the struggle still going on 
in others in regard to this regulation, prove conclusively that 
the isolated labourer, the labourer as "free" vendor of his 
labour-power, when capitalist production has once attained a 
certain stage, succumbs without any power of resistance. The 
creation of a normal working day is, therefore, the product of 
a protracted civil war, more or less dissembled, between the 
capitalist class and the working class. As the contest takes 
place in the arena of modern industry, it first breaks out in 
the home of that industry England.* The English factory 

The employments, placed under restriction, were connected with the manufac 
ture of textile fabrics by the aid of steam or water -power. There were two conditions 
to which an employment must be subject to cause it to be inspected, viz., the use of 
steam or water-power, and the manufacture of certain specified fibres." (Reports, 
&c., for 31st October, 1864, p. 8.) 

2 On the condition of so-called domestic industries, specially valuable materials 
are to be found in the latest reports of the Children s EmploymentTJommission. 

3 The Acts of last Session (1864) .... embrace a diversity of occupations, 
the customs in which differ greatly, and the use of mechanical power to give motion 
to machinery is no longer one of the elements necessary, as formerly, to constitute, 
in legal phrase, a Factory. " (Reports, &c., for 31st October, 1864, p. 8.) 

4 Belgium, the paradise of Continental Liberalism, shows no trace of this move 
ment. Even in the coal and metal mines, labourers of both sexes, and all ages, are 
consumed in perfect "freedom," at any period, and through any length of time. 
Of every 1000 persona employed ther, 733 are men, 88 women, 135 boys, and 44 girls 

286 Capitalist Production. 

workers were the champions, not only of the English, but of 
the modern working-class generally, as their theorists were 
the first to throw down the gauntlet to the theory of capital. 1 
Hence, the philosopher of the Factory, Ure, denounces as an 
ineffable disgrace to the English working-class that they in 
scribed "the slavery of the Factory Acts " on the banner which 
they bore against capital, manfully striving for "perfect free 
dom of labour." 8 

France limps slowly behind England. The February revolu 
tion was necessary to bring into the world the 12 hours law, 3 
which is much more deficient than its English original. For 
all that, the French revolutionary method has its special 
advantages. It once for all commands the same limit to the 
working-day in all shops and factories without distinction, 
whilst English legislation reluctantly yields to the pressure of 
circumstances, now on this point, now on that, and is getting 
lost in a hopelessly bewildering tangle of contradictory enact 
ments. 4 On the other hand, the French law proclaims as a 

under 16 ; in the blast-furnaces, &c., of every 1000, 688 are men, 149 women, 98 boys, 
and 85 girls under 16. Add to this the low wages for the enormous exploitation of 
mature and immature labour-power. The average daily pay for a man is 2s. Sd., for 
a woman, Is. 8d., for a boy, Is. 2d. As a result, Belgium had in 1863, as compared 
with 1850, nearly doubled both the amount and the value of its exports of coal, 
iron, &c. 

1 Robert Owen, soon after 1810, not only maintained the necessity of a limitation 
of the working day in theory, but actually introduced the 10 hours day into his 
factory at New Lanark. This was laughed at as a communistic Utopia ; so were his 
" Combination of children s education with productive labour," and the Go-operative 
Societies of workiug-men, first called into being by him. To-day, the first Utopia is 
a Factory Act, the second figures as an official phrase in all Factory Acts, the third 
is already being used as a cloak for reactionary humbug. 

2 Ure : "French translation, Philosophie des Manufactures." Paris, 1836, Vol. II., 
p. 39, 40, 67, 77, &c. 

s In the Compte Rendu of the International Statistical Congress at Paris, 1855, it 
is stated : " The French law, which limits the length of daily labour in factories and 
workshops to 12 hours, does not confine this work to deficite fixed hours. For 
children s labour only the work-time is prescribed as between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. 
Therefore, some of the masters use the right which this fatal silence gives them to 
keep their works going, without intermission, day in, day out, possibly with the 
exception of Sunday. For this purpose they use two different sets of workers, of 
whom neither is in the workshop more than 12 hours at a time, but the work of the 
establishment lasts day and night. The law is satisfied, but is humanity ? " Besides 
" the destructive influence of night labour on the human organism," stress is also 
laid upon "the fatal influence of the association of the two sexes )y night in the 
same badly -lighted workshops." 

4 " For instance, there is within my district one occupier who, within the same curti 
lage, is at the same time a bleacher and dyer under the Bleaching and Dyeing Works 
Act, a printer under the Print Works Act, and a finisher under the Factory Act." 

The Working Day, 287 

principle that which in England was only won in the name 
of children, minors, and women, and has been only recentl} 
for the first time claimed as a general right. 1 

In the United States of North America, every independent 
movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery dis 
figured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate 
itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. 
But out of the death of slavery a new life at once arose. The 
first fruit of the Civil War was the eight hours agitation, that 
ran with the seven-leagued boots of the locomotive from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California. The 
General Congress of Labour at Baltimore (August 16th, I860 ) 
declared : " The first and great necessity of the present, to free 
the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is the pass 
ing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal work 
ing-day in all States of the American Union. We are resolved 
to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is 
attained." * At the same time, the Congress of the International 


Working Men s Association at Geneva, on the proposition of 
the London General Council, resolved that "the limitation of 
the working-day is a preliminary condition without which 
all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must 
prove abortive. . . . the Congress proposes eight hours as 
the legal limit of the working-day." 

Thus the movement of the working-class on both sides of 
the Atlantic, that had grown instinctively out of the conditions 

(Report of Mr. Baker, in Reports, &c., for October 31st, 1861, p. 20.) After enume 
rating the different provisions of these Acts, and the complications arising from them, 
Mr. Baker says: "It will hence appear that it must be very difficult to secure the 
execution of these three Acts of Parliament where the occupier chooses to evade the 
law." But what is assured to the lawyers by this is lawsuits. 

Thus the Factory Inspectors at last venture to say: "These objections (of 
capital to the legal limitation of the working-day) must succumb before the broad 
principle of the rights of labour. . . . There is a time when the master s right in 
his workman s labour ceases, and his time becomes his own, even if there were no 
exhaustion in the question." (Reports, &c., for 31st Oct., 1862, p. 54.) 

We, the workers of Dunkirk, declare that the length of time of labour required 
under the present system is too great, and that, far from leaving the worker time for 
rest and education, it plunges him into a condition of servitude but little better than 
slavery. That is why we decide that 8 hours are enough for a working-day, and 
ought to be legally recognised as enough ; why we call to our help that powerful 
lever, the press ; . . . and why we shall consider all those that refuse s this help 
as enemies of the reform of labour and of the rights of the labourer." (Resolution of 
the Working Men of Dunkirk, New York State, 1866.) 

288 Capitalist Production. 

of production themselves, endorsed the words of the English 
Factory Inspector, R. J. Saunders : " Further steps towards a 
reformation of society can never be carried out with any hope 
of success, unless the hours of labour be limited, and the pre 
scribed limit strictly enforced." * 

It must be acknowledged that our labourer comes out of the 
process of production other than he entered. In the market 
he stood as owner of the commodity " labour-power face 
to face with other owners of commodities, dealer against 
dealer. The contract by which he sold to the capitalist his 
labour-power proved, so to say, in black and white that he dis 
posed of himself freely. The bargain concluded, it is dis 
covered that he was no " free agent," that the time for which 
he is free to sell his labour-power is the time for which he i& 
forced to sell it, 3 that in fact the vampire will not lose its hold 
on him " so long as there is a muscle, a nerve, a drop of blood 
to be exploited." * For " protection >JI against " the serpent of 
their agonies," the labourers must put their heads together, 
and, as a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful 
social barrier that shall prevent the very workers from selling, 
by voluntary contract with capital, themselves and their 
families into slavery and death. 4 In place of the pompous 
catalogue of the a inalienable rights of man " eomes the modest 
Magna Charta of a legally limited working-day, which shall 
make clear * when the time which the worker sells is ended, 
and when his own begins." * Quantum mutatus ab illo ! 

1 Reports, &c., for Oct., 1848, p. 112. 

1 "The proceedings (the manoeuvres of capital, e.g., from 1848-50) have afforded, 
moreover, incontrovertible proof of the fallacy of the assertion so of ten advanced, that 
operatives need no protection, but may be considered as free agents in the disposal of 
the only property which they possess the labour of their hands and the sweat of their 
brows." (Reports, &c., for April 30th, 1850, p. 45.) "Free labour (if so it may be 
termed) even in a free country, requires the strong arm of the law to protect it." 
(Reports, &c., for October 31st, 1864, p. 34.) "To permit, which is tantamount to 
tompelling . . to work 14 hours a day with or without meals," &c. (Repts,, &c. t 
for April 30th, 1863, p. 40.) 8 Friedrich Engels, 1. c., p. 5. 

4 The 10 Hours Act has, in the branches of industry that come under it, " put an 
end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers." (Reports., &c., 
for 31st Oct., 1859, p. 47.) " Capital (in factories) can never be employed in keep 
ing the machinery in motion beyond a limited time, without certain injury to the 
health and morals of the labourers employed ; and they are not in a position to 
protect themselves." (I.e., p. 8.) 

5 " A still greater boon is the distinction at last made clear between the worker s 
own time and his master s. The worker knows now when that which he sells ia 

Rate and M<tss of Surplus- Vahte. 289 



IN this chapter, as hitherto, the value of labour-power, and 
therefore the part of the working-day necessary for the repro 
duction or maintenance of that labour-power, are supposed to 
be given, constant magnitudes. 

This premised, with the rate, the mass is at the same time 
given of the surplus- value that the individual labourer furnishes 
to the capitalist in a definite period of time. If, e.g., the 
necessary labour amounts to 6 hours daily, expressed in a 
quantum of gold = 3 shillings, then 3s. is the daily value of 
one labour-power or the value of the capital advanced in the 
buying of one labour-power. If, further, the rate of surplus- 
value be = 100 %, this variable capital of 3s. produces a mass 
of surplus- value of 3s., or the labourer supplies daily a mass of 
surplus-labour equal to 6 hours. 

But the variable capital of a capitalist is the expression in 
money of the total value of all the labour-powers that he 
employs simultaneously. Its value is, therefore, equal to the 
average value of one labour-power, multiplied by the number 
of labour-powers employed. With a given value of labour- 
power, therefore, the magnitude of the variable capital varies 
directly as the number of labourers employed simultaneously. 
If the daily value of one labour-power = 3s., then a capital of 
300s. must be advanced in order to exploit daily 100 labour- 
powers, of n times 3s., in order to exploit daily n labour- 

ended, and when his own begins ; and by possessing a sure foreknowledge of this, i 
enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own purposes." (1, c., p. 52.) " By 
making them masters of their own time (the Factory Acts) have given them a moral 
energy which is directing them to the eventual possession of political power" (1, c,, 
p. 47). With suppressed irony, and in very well weighed words, the Factory In 
spectors hint that the actual law also frees the capitalist from some of the brutality 
natural to a man who is a mere embodiment of capital, and that it has given him 
time for a little "culture." "Formerly the master had no time for anything but 
money ; the servant had no time for anything but labour " (1. c., p, 48). 


290 Capitalist Production. 

In the same way, if a variable capital of 3s., being the daily 
value of one labour-power, produce a daily surplus- value of 3s., 
a variable capital of 300s. will produce a daily surplus-value of 
300s., and one of n times 3s. a daily surplus-value of n x 3s. 
The mass of the surplus-value produced is therefore equal to 
the surplus-value which the working-day of one labourer 
supplies multiplied by the number of labourers employed. 
But as further the mass of surplus-value which a single labourer 
produces, the value of labour-power being given, is determined 
by the rate of the surplus-value, this law follows : the mass of 
the surplus-value produced is equal to the amount of the 
variable capital advanced, multiplied by the rate of surplus- 
value ; in other words : it is determined by the compound ratio 
between the number of labour-powers exploited simultaneously 
by the same capitalist and the degree of exploitation of each 
individual labour-power. 

Let the mass of the surplus-value be S, the surplus-value 
supplied by the individual labourer in the average day s, the 
variable capital daily advanced in the purchase of one individual 
labour-power v, the sum total of the variable capital V, the 
value of an average labour-power P, its degree of exploitation 

num ^ er f labourers employed n ; 


( 1 xV 

S= < v 

Px I xn 

It is always supposed, not only that the value of an average 
labour-power is constant, but that the labourers employed by 
a capitalist are reduced to average labourers. There are ex 
ceptional cases in which the surplus-value produced does not 
increase in proportion to the number of labourers exploited, 
but then the value of the labour-power does not remain con 

In the production of a definite mass of surplus-value, there 
fore, the decrease of one factor may be compensated by the in 
crease of the other. If the variable capital diminishes, and at 
the same time the rate of surplus- value increases in the same 

Rate and Mass of Surplus- Value. .291 

ratio, the mass of surplus-value produced remains unaltered. 
If on our earlier assumption the capitalist must advance 300s., 
in order to exploit 100 labourers a day, and if the rate of 
surplus-value amounts to 50 %, this variable capital of 300s. 
yields a surplus-value of 150s. or of 100 x 3 working hours. If 
the rate of surplus- value doubles, or the working-day, instead 
of being extended from 6 to 9, is extended from 6 to 12 hours 
and at the same time variable capital is lessened by half, and 
reduced to 150s., it yields also a surplus- value of 15()s. or 50 x 
6 working hours. Diminution of the variable capital may there 
fore be compensated by a proportionate rise in the degree of 
exploitation of labour-power, or the decrease in the number of 
the labourers employed by a proportionate extension of the 
working-day. Within certain limits therefore the supply of 
labour exploitable by capital is independent of the supply of 
labourers. 1 On the contrary, a fall in the rate of surplus-value 
leaves unaltered the mass of the surplus-value produced, if the 
amount of the variable capital, or number of the labourers em 
ployed, increases in the same proportion. 

Nevertheless, the compensation of a decrease in the number 
of labourers employed, or of the amount of variable capital 
advanced, by a rise in the rate of surplus-value, or by the 
lengthening of the working-day, has impassable limits. What 
ever the value of labour-power may be, whether the working 
time necessary for the maintenance of the labourer is 2 or 10 
hours, the total value that a labourer can produce, day in, day 
out, is always less than the value in which 24 hours of labour 
are embodied, less than 12s., if 12s. is the money expression for 
24> hours of realized labour. In our former assumption, accord 
ing to which 6 working hours are daily necessary in order to 
reproduce the labour-power itself or to replace the value of the 
capital advanced in its purchase, a variable capital of 1500s. } that 
employs 500 labourers at a rate of surplus- value of 100 % with 
a 12 hours working-day, produces daily a surplus-value of 1500s. 
or of 6 x 500 working hours. A capital of 300s. that employs 

1 This elementary law appears to be unknown to the vulgar economists, who, upside- 
down Archimedes, in the determination of the market-price of labour by supply and 
demand, imagine they have found the fulcrum by means of whiqh, not to move the 
world, but to stop its motion. 

292 Capitalist Production. 

100 labourers a day with a rate of surplus- value of 200 % or 
with a working-day of 18 hours, produces only a mass of 
surplus- value of 600s. or 12 x 100 working hours; and its total 
value-product, the equivalent of the variable capital advanced 
plus the surplus- value, can, day in, day out, never reach the sum 
of 1200s. or 24 x 100 working hours. The absolute limit of 
the average working-day this being by Nature always less than 
24 hours sets an absolute limit to the compensation of a re 
duction of variable capital by a higher rate of surplus- value, or 
of the decrease of the number of labourers exploited by a higher 
degree of exploitation of labour-power. This palpable law is 
of importance for the clearing up of many phenomena, arising 
from a tendency (to be worked out later on) of capital to re 
duce as much as possible the number of labourers employed by 
it, or its variable constituent transformed into labour-power, in 
contradiction to its other tendency to produce the greatest 
possible mass of surplus-value. On the other hand, if the mass 
of labour-power employed, or the amount of variable capital, 
increases, but not in proportion to the fall in the rate of surplus- 
value, the mass of the surplus- value produced, falls. 

A third law results from the determination, of the mass of 
the surplus- value produced, by the two factors : rate of surplus- 
value and amount of variable capital advanced. The rate of 
surplus-value, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power,, 
and the value of labour-power, or the amount of necessary 
working time being given, it is self-evident that the greater the 
variable capital, the greater would be the mass of the value 
produced and of the surplus- value. If the limit of the working- 
day is given, and also the limit of its necessary constituent, the 
mass of value and surplus-value that an individual capitalist 
produces, is clearly exclusively dependent on the mass of labour 
that he sets in motion. But this, under the conditions supposed 
above, depends on the mass of labour-power, or the number of 
labourers whom he exploits, and this number in its turn is 
determined by the amount of the variable capital advanced. 
With a given rate of surplus -value, and a given value of labour- 
power, therefore, the masses of surplus- value produced vary 
directly as the amounts of the variable capitals advanced. 

Rate and Mass of Surplus- Valut. 293 

Now we know that the capitalist divides his capital into two 
parts. One part he lays out in means of production. This is 
the constant part of his capital. The other part he lays out in 
living labour-power. This part forms his variable capital. On 
the basis of the same mode of social production, the division of 
capital into constant and variable differs in different branches 
of production, and within the same branch of production, too, 
this relation changes with changes in the technical conditions 
and in the social combinations of the processes of production. 
But in whatever proportion a given capital breaks up into a 
constant and a variable part, whether the latter is to the former 
as 1 : 2 or 1 : 10 or 1 : x, the law just laid down is not affected 
by this. For, according to our previous analysis, the value of 
the constant capital reappears in the value of the product, but 
does not enter into the newly produced value, the newly 
created value-product. To employ 1000 spinners, more raw 
material, spindles, &c., are, of course, required, than to employ 
100. The value of these additional means of production how 
ever, may rise, fall, remain unaltered, be large or small ; it has 
no influence on the process of creation of surplus-value by 
means of the labour-powers that put them in motion. The law 
demonstrated above now, therefore, takes this form : the masses 
of value and of sur plus- value produced by different capitals 
the value of labour-power being given and its degree of ex 
ploitation being equal vary directly as the amounts of the 
variable constituents of these capitals, i.e., as their constituents 
transformed into living labour-power. 

This law clearly contradicts all experience based on appear 
ance. Every one knows that a cotton spinner, who, reckoning 
the percentage on the whole of his applied capital, employs 
much constant and little variable capital, does not, on account 
of this, pocket less profit or surplus-value than a baker, who 
relatively sets in motion much variable and little constant 
capital. For the solution of this apparent contradiction, many 
intermediate terms are as yet wanted, as from the standpoint 
of elementary algebra many intermediate terms are wanted to 
understand that may represent an actual magnitude. Classical 
economy, although not formulating the law, holds instinctively 


294 Capitalist Production* 

to it, because it is a necessary consequence of the general law 
of value. It tries to rescue the law from collision with 
contradictory phenomena by a violent abstraction. It will be 
seen later 1 how the school of Bicardo has come to grief over 
this stumbling-block. Vulgar economy which, indeed, " has 
really learnt nothing/ here as everywhere sticks to appearances 
in opposition to the law which regulates and explains them. 
In opposition to Spinoza, it believes that " ignorance is a suffi 
cient reason." 

The labour which is set in motion by the total capital of a 
society, day in, day out, may be regarded as a single collective 
working-day. If, e.g., the number of labourers is a million, and 
the average working-day of a labourer is 10 hours, the social 
working-day consists often million hours. With a given length 
of this working-day, whether its limits are fixed physically 
or socially, the mass of surplus- value can only be increased by 
increasing the number of labourers, i.e., of the labouring 
population. The growth of population here forms the mathe 
matical limit to the production of surplus-value by the total 
social capital. On the contrary, with a given amount of 
population, this limit is formed by the possible lengthening of 
the working-day.* It will, however, be seen in the following 
chapter that this law only holds for the form of surplus-value 
dealt with up to the present. 

From the treatment of the production of surplus-value, so 
/ar, it follows that not every sum of money, or of value, is at 
pleasure transformable into capital. To effect this transforma 
tion, in fact, a certain minimum of money or of exchange- value 
must be presupposed in the hands of the individual possessor 
of money or commodities. The minimum of variable capital is 
the cost price of a single labour-power, employed the whole 
year through, clay in, day out, for the production of surplus- 
value. If this labourer were in possession of his own mean? 

1 Further particulars will be given in Book IV. 

3 " The labour, that is the economic time, of socitty, ia a given portion, say ten 

hours a day of a million of people, or ten million hours Capital has its 

boundary of increase. This boundary may, at any given period, be attained in the 
actual extent of economic time employed." ( An Essay on the Political Economy of 
Nations." London, 1821, pp. 47, 49.) 

Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value. 295 

of production, and were satisfied to live as a labourer, he need 
not work beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of 
his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day. He would, besides, 
only require the means of production sufficient for 8 working 
hours. The capitalist, on the other hand, who makes him do, 
besides these 8 hours, say 4 hours surplus-labour, requires an 
additional sum of money for furnishing the additional means 
of production. On our supposition, however, he would have to 
employ two labourers in order to live, on the surplus-value 
appropriated daily, as well as, and no better than a labourer, 
i.e., to be able to satisfy his necessary wants. In this case the 
mere maintenance of life would be the end of his production, 
not the increase of wealth; but this latter is implied in 
capitalist production. That he may live only twice as well 
as an ordinary labourer, and besides turn half of the surplus- 
value produced into capital, he would have to raise, with the 
number of labourers, the minimum of the capital advanced 8 
times. Of course he can, like his labourer, take to work him 
self, participate directly in the process of production, but he is 
then only a h}-brid between capitalist and labourer, a small 
master." A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates 
that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time 
during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e., as personified 
capital, to the appropriation and therefore control of the labour 
of others, and to the selling of the products of this labour. 
The guilds of the middle ages therefore tried to prevent by 
force the transformation of the master of a trade into a 
capitalist, by limiting the number of labourers that could be 

* " The farmer cannot rely on his own labour, and if he does, I will maintain that 
he is a loser by it. His employment should be a general attention to the whole : his 
thresher must be watched, or he will soon lose his wages in corn not threshed out ; 
his mowers, reapers, &c., must be looked after; he must constantly go round hi 
fences ; he must see there is no neglect ; which would be the case if he was confined 
to any one spot." (" An Inquiry into the connection between the Price of Provisions 
and the Size of Farms, &c. By a Farmer." London, 1773, p. 12.) This book is very 
interesting. In it the genesis of the "capitalist farmer" or " merchant farmer, "aa 
he ia explicitly called, may be studied, and his self-glorification at the expense of the 
small farmer who has only to do with bare subsistence, be noted. The class of 
capitalists are from the first partially, and they become ultimately completely, dis 
charged from the necessity of the manual labour." (" Text-book of Lectures on the 
Political Economy of Nations. By the Rev. Richard Jones." Hertford, 1852. 
Lecture III. p. 39.) 

296 Capitalist Production. 

employed by one master within a very small maximum. The 
possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a 
capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced 
for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle 
ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of 
the law discovered by Hegel (in his "Logic"), that merely 
quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into 
qualitative changes. 1 

The minimum of the sum of value that the individual pos 
sessor of money or commodities must command, in order to 
metamorphose himself into a capitalist, changes with the 
different stages of development of capitalist production, and 
is at given stages different in different spheres of production, 
according to their special and technical conditions. Certain 
spheres of production demand, even at the very outset of capi 
talist production, a minimum of capital that is not as yet 
found in the hands of single individuals. This gives rise partly 
to state subsidies to private persons, as in France in the time of 
Colbert, and as in many German states up to our own epoch ; 
partly to the formation of societies with legal monopoly for the 
exploitation of certain branches of industry and commerce, the 
fore-runners of our modern joint-stock companies. 8 

Within the process of production, as we have seen, capital 
acquired the command over labour, i.e., over functioning labour- 
power or the labourer himself. Personified capital, the capi 
talist takes care that the labourer does his work regularly and 
with the proper degree of intensity. 

Capital further developed into a coercive relation, which 

* The molecular theory of modern chemistry first scientifically worked out by 
Laurent and Gerhardt rests on no other law. (Addition to 3rd Edition. ) For the ex 
planation of this statement, which is not very clear to non-chemists, we remark that 
the author speaks here of the homologous series of carbon compounds, first so named 
by 0. Gerhardt in 1843, each series of which has its own general algebraic formula. 
Thus the series of paraffins: C n H 211 * 2 , that of the normal alcohols : O H 2u + O ; 
of the normal fatty acids : C n H 211 O a and many others. In the above examples, by 
the simply quantitative addition of H a to the molecular formula, a qualitatively 
different body is each time formed. On the share (overestimated by Marx) of Laurent 
and Gerhardt in the determination of this important fact see Kopp, " Entwicklung 
derOheraie." Mlinchen, 1873, pp. 709, 716, and Schorlemmer, " Rise and Progress 
of Organic Chemistry." London, 1879, p. 54. Ed. 

Martin Luther calls these kinds of institutions : "The Company Monopolia." 

Rate and Mass of Surplus- Value. 297 

compels the working class to do more work than the narrow 
round of its own life- wants prescribes. As a producer of the 
activity of others, as a pumper-out of surplus-labour and ex 
ploiter of labour-power, it surpasses in energy, disregard of 
bounds, recklessness and efficiency, all earlier systems of pro 
duction based on directly compulsory labour. 

At first, capital subordinates labour on the basis of the tech 
nical conditions in which it historically finds it. It does not, 
therefore, change immediately the mode of production. The 
production of surplus-value in the form hitherto considered 
by us by means of simple extension of the working-day, 
proved, therefore, to be independent of any change in the 
mode of production itself. It was not less active in the old- 
fashioned bakeries than in the modern cotton factories. 

If we consider the process of production from the point of 
view of the simple labour-process, the labourer stands in relation 
to the means of production, not in their quality as capital, but 
as the mere means and material of his own intelligent pro 
ductive activity. In tanning, e.g., he deals with the skins aa 
his simple object of labour. It is not the capitalist whose skin 
he tans. But it is different as soon as we deal with the process 
of production from the point of view of the process of creation 
of surplus-value. The means of production are at once changed 
into means for the absorption of the labour of others. It is now 
no longer the labourer that employs the means of production, 
but the means of production that employ the labourer. In 
stead of being consumed by him as material elements of his 
productive activity, they consume him as the ferment neces 
sary to their own life-process, and the life-process of capital 
consists only in its movement as value constantly expanding, 
constantly multiplying itself. Furnaces and workshops that 
stand idle by night, and absorb no living labour, are " a mero 
loss 1 to the capitalist. Hence, furnaces and workshops con 
stitute lawful claims upon the night-labour of the workpeople. 
The simple transformation of money into the material factors 
of the process of production, into means of production, trans 
forms the latter into a title and a right to the labour and 
surplus-labour of others. An exami)le will show, in conclusion, 

298 Capitalist Production. 

how this sophistication, peculiarto and characteristic of capitalist 
production, this complete inversion of the relation between dead 
and living labour, between value and the force that creates 

o * 

value, mirrors itself in the consciousness of capitalists. During 
the revolt of the English factory, lords between 1848 and 1850, 
" the head of one of the oldest and most respectable houses in 
the West of Scotland, Messrs. Carlile Sons & Co., of the linen 
and cotton thread factory at Paisley, a company which has now 
existed for about a century, which was in operation in 1752, 
and four generations of the same family haTe conducted it "... 
this " very intelligent gentleman " then wrote a letter 1 in the 
"Glasgow Daily Mail" of April 25th, 1849, with the title, 
"The relay system," in which among other things the following 
grotesquely naive passage occurs : " Let us now . . . see what 
evils will attend the limiting to 10 hours the working of the 
factory. . . . They amount to the most serious damage to 
the mill-owner s prospects and property. If he (i.e., his "hands") 
worked 12 hours before, and is limited to 10, then every 12 
machines or spindles in his establishment shrink to 10, and 
should the works be disposed of, they will be valued only as 10, 
so that a sixth part would thus be deducted from the value of 
every factdry in the country." a 

To this West of Scotland bourgeois brain, inheriting the 
accumulated capitalistic qualities of "four generations," the 
value of the means of production, spindles, &c. is so inseparably 
mired up with their property, as capital, to expand their own 
value, and to swallow up daily a definite quantity of the un 
paid labour of others, that the head of the firm of Carlile & Co. 
actually imagines that if lie sells his factory, not only will the 
value of the spindles be paid to him, but, in addition, their 
power of annexing surplus- value, not only the labour which is 
embodied in them, and is necessary to the production of spindles 

i Reports of Insp. of Fact., April 30th, 1849, p. 59. 

1. o., p. 60. Factory Inspector Stuart, himself a Scotchman, and in contrast t 
th English Factory Inspectors, quite taken captive by the capitalistic method of 
thinking, remarks expressly on this letter which he incorporates in his report that it 
is " the mo*t usefiri of the communications which any of the factory -owners working 
with rlay have give* to those engaged in the same trade, and which is the most 
calculated to remove the prejudices of such of them as have scruples respecting any 
change of the arrangement of the hotirs of work." 

Rate and Mass of Surplus- Value. 299 

of this kind, but also the surplus-labour which they help to 
pump out daily from the brave Scots of Paisley, and for that 
very reason he thinks that with the shortening of the working- 
day by 2 hours, the selling-price of 12 spinning machines 
dwindles to that of 10 I 





THAT portion of the working-day which merely produces 
an equivalent for the value paid by the capitalist for his 
labour-power, has, up to this point, been treated by us as 
a constant magnitude ; and such in fact it is, under given 
conditions of production and at a given stage in the econo 
mical development of society. Beyond this, his necessary 
labour-time, the labourer, we saw, could continue to work 
for 2, 3, 4, 6, &c., hours. The rate of surplus-value and 
the length of the working day depended on the magni 
tude of this prolongation. Though the necessary labour- 
time was constant, we saw, on the other hand, that the 
total working-day was variable. Now suppose we have a 
working-day whose length, and whose apportionment be 
tween necessary labour and surplus-labour, are given. Let 

the whole line a c, a b c represent, for example, 

a working-day of 12 hours: the portion of a b 10 hours 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 30 1 

of necessary labour, and the portion b c 2 hours of surplus- 
labour. How now can the production of surplus-value be 
increased, i.e., how can the surplus-labour be prolonged, with 
out, or independently of, any prolongation of a c ? 

Although the length of a c is given, b c appears to be capable 
of prolongation, if not by extension beyond its end c, which is 
also the end of the working day a c, yet, at all events, by push 
ing back its starting point b in the direction of a. Assume 
that b b in the line a b b c is equal to half of b c 

a b b c 

or to one hour s labour-time. If now, in a c, the working day 
of 12 hours, we move the point b to b , b c becomes b c ; the 
surplus-labour increases by one half, from 2 hours to 3 hours, 
although the working day remains as before at 12 hours. 
This extension of the surplus labour- time from b c to V c, from 
2 hours to 3 hours, is, however, evidently impossible, without a 
simultaneous contraction of the necessary labour-time from 
a b into a b , from 10 hours to 9 hours. The prolongation of 
the surplus-labour would correspond to a shortening of the 
necessary labour ; or a portion of the labour- time previously 
consumed, in reality, for the labourer s own benefit, would be 
converted into labour-time for the benefit of the capitalist. 
There would be an alteration, not in the length of the working 
day, but in its division into necessary labour-time and surplus 

On the other hand, it is evident that the duration of the 
surplus-labour is given, when the length of the working day, 
and the value of labour-power, are given. The value of 
labour-power, i.e., the labour-time requisite to produce labour- 
power, determines the labour-time necessary for the repro- 
du *tion of that value. If one working hour be embodied in 
six ence, and the value of a day s labour-power be five shillings, 
the labourer must work 10 hours a day, in order to replace 
the value paid by capital for his labour-power, or to produce 
an equivalent for the value of his daily necessary means of sub- 
si stence. Given the value of these means of subsistence, the 
value of his labour-power is given; 1 and given the value of hia 

1 The value of his average daily wages is determined by what the labourer requires 

3O2 Capitalist Production. 

labour-power, the duration of his necessary labour-time is given. 
The duration of the surplus-labour, however, is arrived at, by 
subtracting the necessary labour-time from the total working 
day. Ten hours subtracted from twelve, leave two, and it is 
not easy to see, how, under the given conditions, the surplus- 
labour can possibly be prolonged beyond two hours. No 
doubt, the capitalist can, instead of five shillings, pay the 
labourer four shillings and sixpence or even less. For the re 
production of this value of four shillings and sixpence, nine 
hours labour-time would suffice ; and consequently three hours 
of surplus-labour, instead of two, would accrue to the capitalist, 
and the surplus-value would rise from one shilling to eighteen- 
pence. This result, however, would be obtained only by lowering 
the wages of the labourer below the value of his labour-power. 
With the four shillings and sixpence which he produces in nine 
hours, he commands one-tenth less of the necessaries of life than 
before, and consequently the proper reproduction of his labour- 
power is crippled. The surplus-labour would in this case be 
prolonged only by an overstepping of its normal limits ; its 
domain would be extended only by a usurpation of part of the 
domain of necessary labour-time. Despite the important part 
which this method plays in actual practice, we are excluded 
from considering it in this place, by our assumption, that all 
commodities, including labour-power, are bought and sold at 
their full value. Granted this, it follows that the labour-time 
necessary for the production of labour-power, or for the repro 
duction of its value, cannot be lessened by a fall in the 
labourer s wages below the value of his labour-power, but only 
by a fall in this value itself. Given the length of the working 
day, the prolongation of the surplus-labour must of necessity 

" so as to live, labour, and generate." (Wm. Petty : " Political Anatomy of Ireland," 
1672, p. 64.) " The price of Labour is always constituted of the price of necessaries 
. . . whenever .... the labouring man s wages will not, suitably to his low rank and 
station, as a labouring man, support such a family as is often the lot of many of them 
to have," he does not receive proper wages. (J. Vanderlint, 1. c. p. 15.) " Le simple 
ouvrier, qui n a que ses bras et son Industrie, n a rien qu autant qu il parvient a 
vendre a d autres sa peine. . . En tout genre de travail il doit arriver, et il arrive eii 
effet, que le salaire de 1 ouvrier se borne a ce qui lui est necessaire pour lui procurer 
ga subsistance. " (Turgot, Reflexions, &c., Oeuvres ed. Dairet. I. p. 10). " The price 
of the necessaries of life is, in fact, the cost of producing labour." (Malthus, 
Inquiry into, &c., Eent, London, 1815, p. 48 note). 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 303 

originate in the curtailment of the necessary labour-time ; the 
latter cannot arise from the former. In the example we have 
taken, it is necessary that the value of labour-power should 
actually fall by one-tenth, in order that the necessary labour- 
time may be diminished by one-tenth, i.e., from ten hours to 
nine, and in order that the surplus-labour may consequently 
be prolonged from two hours to three. 

Such a fall in the value of labour-power implies, however, 
that the same necessaries of life which were formerly produced 
in ten hours, can now be produced in nine hours. But this is 
impossible without an increase in the productiveness of labour. 
For example, suppose a shoemaker, with given tools, makes in 
one working day of twelve hours, one pair of boots. If he 
must make two pairs in the same time, the productiveness of 
his labour must be doubled ; and this cannot be done, except 
by an alteration in his tools or in his mode of working, or in 
both. Hence, the conditions of production, i.e., his mode of 
production, and the labour-process itself, must be revolu 
tionised. By increase in the productiveness of labour, we 
mean, generally, an alteration in the labour-process, of such a 
kind as to shorten the labour-time socially necessary tor the 
production of a commodity, and to endow a given quantity of 
labour with the power of producing a greater quantity of use- 
value. 1 Hitherto in treating of surplus-value, arising from a 
simple prolongation of the working day, \ve have assumed the 
mode of production to be given and invariable. But when 
surplus- value has to be produced by the conversion of necessary 
labour into surplus-labour, it by no means suffices for capital 
to take over the labour-process in the form under which it has 
been historically handed down, and then simply to prolong the 
duration of that process. The technical and social conditions 
of the process, and consequently the very mode of production 
must be revolutionised, before the productiveness of labour can 
be increased. By that means alone can the value of labour- 

1 "Quando si perfezionano le arti, che non altro clie la scoperta di nuove vie, ondo 
si posga compiere una manufattura con meno gente o (che e lo st^sso) in minor tempo 
di prima." (Galiani 1. c. p. 159.) "L economie sur les frais de production ne peu 
done 6tre autre chose ^que Pe conomie sur la quantite de travail employe pour 
produire." (Sismondi Etudes t. I. p. 22.) 

304 Capitalist Production. 

power be made to sink, and the portion of the working day 
necessary for the reproduction of that value, be shortened. 

The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working 
day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the 
surplus-value arising from the curtailment of the necessary 
labour-time, and from the corresponding alteration in the re 
spective lengths of the two components of the working day, I 
call relative surplus-value. 

In order to effect a fall in the value of labour-power, the in 
crease in the productiveness of labour must seize upon those 
branches of industry, whose products determine the value of 
labour-power, and consequently either belong to the class of 
customary means of subsistence, or are capable of supplying 
the place of those means. But the value of a commodity is de 
termined, not only by the quantity of labour which the 
labourer directly bestows upon that commodity, but also by the 
labour contained in the means of production. For instance, 
the value of a pair of boots depends, not only on the cobbler s 
labour, but also on the value of the leather, wax, thread, &c. 
Hence, a fall in the value of labour-power is also brought about 
by an increase in the productiveness of labour, and by a corres 
ponding cheapening of commodities in those industries which 
supply the instruments of labour and the raw material, that 
form the material elements of the constant capital required for 
producing the necessaries of life. But an increase in the pro 
ductiveness of labour in those branches of industry which 
supply neither the necessaries of life, nor the means of produc 
tion for such necessaries, leaves the value of labour-power un 

The cheapened commodity, of course, causes only a pro 
tanto fall in the value of labour-power, a fall proportional to 
the extent of that commodity s employment in the reproduc 
tion of labour-power. Shirts, for instance, are a necessary 
means of subsistence, but are only one out of many. The 
totality of the necessaries of life consists, however, of various 
commodities, each the product of a distinct industry ; and the 
value of each of those commodities enters as a component part 
into the value of labour-power. This latter value decreases 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 305 

with the decrease of the labour-time necessary for its reproduc 
tion ; the total decrease being the sum of all the different cur 
tailments of labour-time effected in those various and distinct 
industries. This general result is treated, here, as if it were 
the immediate result directly aimed at in each individual case. 
Whenever an individual capitalist cheapens shirts, for instance, 
by increasing the productiveness of labour, he by no means 
necessarily aims at reducing the value of labour-power and 
shortening, pro tan to, the necessary labour-time. But it is only 
in so far as he ultimately contributes to this result, that he 
assists in raising the general rate of surplus-value. 1 The 
general and necessary tendencies of capital must be distin 
guished from their forms of manifestation. 

It is not our intention to consider, here, the way in which 
the laws, immanent in capitalist production, manifest them 
selves in the movements of individual masses of capital, where 
they assert themselves as coercive laws of competition, and are- 
brought home to the mind and consciousness of the individual 
capitalist as the directing motives of his operations. But this 
much is clear ; a scientific analysis of competition is not 
possible, before we have a conception of the inner nature of 
capital, just as the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies 
are not intelligible to any but him, who is acquainted with 
their real motions, motions which are not directly perceptible 
by the senses. Nevertheless, for the better comprehension of 
the production of relative surplus-value, we may add the 
following remarks, in which we assume nothing more than the 
results we have already obtained. 

If one hour s labour is embodied in sixpence, a value of six 
shillings will be produced in a working day of 12 hours. 
Suppose, that with the prevailing productiveness of labour, 12 
articles are produced in these 12 hours. Let the value of the 
means of production used up in each article be sixpence. Under 
these circumstances, each article costs one shilling : sixpence 
for the value of the means of production, and sixpence for the 

1 " Let us suppose. , . . . the products . . . . of the manufacturer are doubled by 
mprovement in machinery ... he will be able to clothe his workmen by means oC 
a smaller proportion of the entire return . . . and thus his profit will be raised. 
But in no other way will it be influenced." (Ramsay, 1. c. p. 168, 169.) 


306 Capitalist Production. 

value newly added in working with those means. Now let 
some one capitalist contrive to double the productiveness of 
labour, and to produce in the working day of 12 hours, 24 in 
stead of 12 such articles. The value of the means of produc 
tion remaining the same, the value of each article will fall to 
ninepence, made up of sixpence for the value of the means of 
production and threepence for the value newly added by the 
labour. Despite the doubled productiveness of labour, the 
day s labour creates, as before, a new value of six shillings and 
no more, which, however, is now spread over twice as many 
articles. Of this value each article now has embodied in it ^th, 
instead of -j^th, threepence instead of sixpence ; or, what 
amounts to the same thing, only half an hour s instead of a 
whole hour s labour-time, is now added to the means of pro 
duction while they are being transformed into each article. 
The individual value of these articles is now below their social 
value ; in other words, they have cost less labour-time than 
the great bulk of the same article produced under the average 
social conditions. Each article costs, on an average, one shilling, 
and represents 2 hours of social labour ; but under the altered 
mode of production it costs only ninepence, or contains only 1 J 
hours labour. The real value of a commodity is, however, not 
its individual value, but its social value ; that is to say, the 
real value is not measured by the labour-time that the article 
in each individual case costs the producer, but by the labour- 
time socially required for its production. If therefore, the 
capitalist who applies the new method, sells his commodity 
at its social value of one shilling, he sells it for threepence 
above its individual value, and thus realises an extra surplus- 
value of threepence. On the other hand, the working day of 
12 hours is, as regards him, now represented by 24 articles 
instead of 12. Hence, in order to get rid of the product of 
one working day, the demand must be double what it was, i.e., 
the market must become twice as extensive. Other things 
being equal, his commodities can command a more extended 
market only by a diminution of their prices. He will there 
fore sell them above their individual but under their social 
value, say at tenpence each. By this means he still squeezes 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 307 

an extra surplus-value of one penny out of each. This aug 
mentation of surplus-value is pocketed by him, whether his 
commodities belong or not to the class of necessary means of 
subsistence that participate in determining the general value of 
labour-power. Hence, independently of this latter circums t.ance, 
there is a motive for each individual capitalist to cheapen 
his commodities, by increasing the productiveness of labour. 

Nevertheless, even in this case, the increased production of 
surplus-value arises from the curtailment of the necessary 
labour-time, and from the corresponding prolongation of the 
surplus-labour. 1 Let the necessary labour-time amount to 
10 hours, the value of a day s labour- power to five shillings, the 
surplus labour-time to 2 hours, and the daily surplus-value to 
one shilling. But the capitalist now produces 24 articles, 
which he sells at tenpence a-piece, making twenty shillings in 
all. Since the value of the means of production is twelve 
shillings, 14?| of these articles merely replace the constant 
capital advanced. The labour of the 12 hours working day is 
represented by the remaining 9| articles. Since the price of 
the labour-power is five shillings, 6 articles represent the 
necessary labour-time, and 3| articles the surplus-labour. The 
ratio of the necessary labour to the surplus-labour, which under 
average social conditions was 5 : 1, is now only 5 : 8 The 
same result may be arrived at in the following way. The 
value of the product of the working day of 12 hours is twenty 
shillings. Of this sum, twelve shillings belong to the value of 
the means of production, a value that merely re-appears. 
There remain eight shillings, which are the expression in 
money, of the value newly created during the working day. 
This sum is greater than the sum in which average social 
labour of the same kind is expressed : twelve hours of the 
latter labour are expressed by six shillings only. The excep 
tionally productive labour operates as intensified labour ; it 

i u A man s profit does not depend upon his command of the produce of other men s 
labour, but upon his command of labour itself. If he can sell his goods at a higher 
price, while his workmen s wages remain unaltered, he is clearly benefited. ... A 
smaller proportion of what he produces is sufficient to put that labour into motion, 
and a larger proportion consequently remains for himself." ( Outlines of Pol. Econ." 
London, 1832, pp. 49, 50.) 

308 Capitalist Production. 

creates in equal periods of time greater values than average 
social labour of the same kind. (See Ch. I. Sect. 1. p. 11.) But 
our capitalist still continues to pay as before only five shillings 
as the value of a day s labour-power. Hence, instead of 10 
hours, the labourer need now work only 7i hours, in order to 
re-produce this value. His surplus-labour is, therefore, in 
creased by 2| hours, and the surplus-value he produces grows 
from one, into three shillings. Hence, the capitalist who 
applies the improved method of production, appropriates to 
surplus-labour a greater portion of the working day, than the 
other capitalists in the same trade. He does individually,, 
what the whole body of capitalists engaged in producing re 
lative surplus-value, do collectively. On the other hand, 
however, this extra surplus-value vanishes, so soon as the new 
method of production has become general, and has consequently 
caused the difference between the individual value of the 
cheapened commodity and its social value to vanish. The law 
of the determination of value by labour-time, a law which 
brings under its sway the individual capitalist who applies 
the new method of production, by compelling him to sell his 
goods under their social value, this same law, acting as a co 
ercive law of competition, forces his competitors to adopt the 
new method. 1 The general rate of surplus-value is, therefore, 
ultimately affected by the whole process, only when the in 
crease in the productiveness of labour, has seized upon those 
branches of production that are connected with, and has 
cheapened those commodities that form part of, the necessary 
means of subsistence, and are therefore elements of the value 
of labour-power. 

The value of commodities is in inverse ratio to the produc 
tiveness of labour. And so, too, is the value of labour-power, 
because it depends on the values of commodities. Relative 

1 " If my neighbour by doing much with little labour, can sell cheap, I must con 
trive to sell as cheap as he. So that every art, trade, or engine, doing work with 
labour of fewer hands, and consequently cheaper, begets in others a kind of necessity 
and emulation, either of using the same ar x, trade, or engine, or of inventing some 
thing like it, that every man may be upon the square, that no man may be able to 
undersell his neighbour." ("The Adv\ntages of the East India Trade to England/ 
London, 1720, p. 67.) 

The Concept of Relative Surplus- Value. 309 

surplus-value is, on the contrary, directly proportional to that 
productiveness. It rises with rising and falls with falling 
productiveness. The value of money being assumed to be 
constant, an average social working day of 12 hours always 
produces the same new value, six shillings, no matter how this 
sum may be apportioned between surplus-value and wages. 
But if, in consequence of increased productiveness, the value 
of the necessaries of life fall, and the value of a day s labour- 
power be thereby reduced from five shillings to three, the sur 
plus-value increases from one shilling to three. Ten hours 
were necessary for the reproduction of the value of the labour- 
power ; now only six are required. Four hours have been set 
free, and can be annexed to the domain of surplus-labour. 
Hence there is immanent in capital an inclination and constant 
tendency, to heighten the productiveness of labour, in order to 
cheapen commodities, and by such cheapening to cheapen the 
labourer himself. 1 

The value of a commodity is, in itself, of no interest to the 
capitalist. What alone interests him, is the surplus- value that 
dwells in it, and is realisable by sale. Realisation of the sur 
plus-value necessarily carries with it the refunding of the value 
that was advanced. Now, since relative surplus-value in 
creases in direct proportion to the development of the produc 
tiveness of labour, while, on the other hand, the value of com 
modities diminishes in the same proportion ; since one and the 
same process cheapens commodities, and augments the surplus- 
value contained in them ; we have here the solution of the 
riddle : why does the capitalist, whose sole concern is the pro 
duction of exchange-value, continually strive to depress the 
exchange-value of commodities? A riddle with which Quesnay, 

1 " In whatever proportion the expenses of a labourer are diminished, in the same 
proportion will his wages be diminished, if the restraints upon industry are at the 
same time taken off." (" Considerations concerning taking off the Bounty on Corn Ex 
ported," &c., Lond., 1753, p. 7.) " The interest of trade requires, that corn and all 
provisions should be as cheap as possible ; for whatever makes them dear, must make 
labour dear also ... in all countries, where industry is not restrained, the price of 
provisions must affect the price of labour. This will always be diminished when tho 
necessaries of life grow cheaper." (1. c. p. 3.) "Wages are decreased in the san 
proportion as the powers of production increase. Machinery, it is true, cheapens t 
necessaries of life, but it also cheapens the labourer." ("A Prize Essay on t 1 
Comparative Merits of Competition and Co-operation." London, 1834, p. 27.) 

310 Capitalist Production. 

one of the founders of political economy, tormented his 
opponents, and to which they could give him no answer. 
" You acknowledge," he says, "that the more expenses and the 
cost of labour can, in the manufacture of industrial products, 
be reduced without injury to production, the more advantage 
ous is such reduction, because it diminishes the price of the 
finished article. And yet. you believe that the production of 
wealth, which arises from the labour of the workpeople, con 
sists in the augmentation of the exchange-value of their 
products." 1 

The shortening of the working day is, therefore, by no 
means what is aimed at, in capitalist production, when labour 
is economised by increasing its productiveness.* It is only the 
shortening of the labour-time, necessary for the production of 
a definite quantity of commodities, that is aimed at. The fact 
that the workman, when the productiveness of his labour has 
been increased, produces, say 10 times as many commodities as 
before, and thus spends one-tenth as much labour- time on each, 
by no means prevents him from continuing to work 12 hours as 
before, nor from producing in those 12 hours 1200 articles in 
stead of 120. Nay, more, his working day may be prolonged 
at the same time, so as to make him produce, say 1400 articles 
in 14 hours. In the treatises, therefore, of economists of the 
stamp of MacCulloch, Ure, Senior, and tutti quanti, we may 
read upon one page, that the labourer owes a debt of gratitude 
to capital for developing his productiveness, because the 
necessary labour-time is thereby shortened, and on the next 
page, that he must prove his gratitude by working in future 

1 "Us conviennent que plus on peut, sans prejudice, epargner de frais ou de travaux 
dispendieux dans la fabrication des ouvrages des artisans, plus cette Spargne est pro 
fitable par la diminution des prix de ces onvrages. Cependant ils croient que la pro 
duction de richesse qui rSsulte des travaux des artisans consiste dans 1 augmentation, 
dela valeur venale de leurs ouvrages." (Quesnay: "Dialogues surle Commerce et sur 
les Travaux des artisans," pp. 188, 189.) 

a " Ces speculateurs si 6conomes du travail des ouvriers qu il faudrait qu ils pay- 
assent." (J. N. Bidaut : "Du Monopole qui s etablit dans les arts industriels et le 
commerce." Paris, 1828, p. 13.) "The employer will be always on the stretch to 
economise time and labour. * (Dugald Stewart : Works ed. by Sir W. Hamilton. 
Edinburgh, v. viii., 1865. Lectures on Polit. Econ., p. 318.) "Their (the capitalists ) 
interest is that the productive powers of the labourers they employ should be the 
greatest possible. On promoting that power their attention is fixed and almost ex 
clusively fixed." (R. Jones : 1. c. lecture III.) 

Co-Operation. 311 

for 15 hours instead of 10. The object of all development of 
the productiveness of labour, within the limits of capitalist 
production, is to shorten that part of the working day, during 
which the workman must labour for his own benefit, and by 
that very shortening, to lengthen the other part of the day, 
during which he is at liberty to work gratis for the capitalist. 
How far this result is also attainable, without cheapening 
commodities, will appear from an examination of the particular 
modes of producing relative surplus-value, to which examina 
tion we now proceed. 



CAPITALIST production only then really begins, as we have 
already seen, when each individual capital employs simultane 
ously a comparatively large number of labourers ; when conse 
quently the labour-process is carried on on an extensive scale 
and yields, relatively, large quantities of products. A greater 
number of labourers working together, at the same time, in 
one place (or, if you will, in the same field of labour), in order 
to produce the same sort of commodity under the mastership 
of one capitalist, constitutes, both historically and logically, 
the starting point of capitalist production. With regard to 
the mode of production itself, manufacture, in its strict mean 
ing, is hardly to be distinguished, in its earliest stages, from 
the handicraft trades of the guilds, otherwise than by the 
greater number of workmen simultaneously employed by one 
and the same individual capital. The workshop of the 
mediaeval master handicraftsman is simply enlarged. 

At first, therefore, the difference is purely quantitative. We 
have shown that the surplus-value produced by a given capital 
is equal to the surplus- value produced by each workman mul 
tiplied by the number of workmen simultaneously employed. 
The number of workmen in itself does not affect, either the rate 
of surplus-value, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power. 
If a working day of 12 hours be embodied in six shillings, 1200 

312 Capitalist Production. 

such days will be embodied in 1200 times 6 shillings. In one 
case 12 x 1200 working hours, and in the other 12 such hours 
are incorporated in the product. In the production of value 
a number of workmen rank merely as so many individual 
workmen ; and it therefore makes no difference in the value 
produced whether the 1200 men work separately, or united 
under the control of one capitalist 

Nevertheless, within certain limits, a modification takes 
place. The labour realised in value, is labour of an average 
social quality ; is consequently the expenditure of average 
labour-power. Any average magnitude, however, is merely 
the average of a number of separate magnitudes all of one 
kind, but differing as to quantity. In every industry, each 
individual labourer, be he Peter or Paul, differs from the 
average labourer. These individual differences, or " errors 
as they are called in mathematics, compensate one another, 
and vanish, whenever a certain minimum number of workmen 
are employed together. The celebrated sophist and sycophant, 
Edmund Burke, goes so far as to make the following assertion, 
based on his practical observations as a farmer ; viz., that " in 
so small a platoon " as that of five farm labourers, all indi 
vidual differences in the labour vanish, and that consequently 
any given five adult farm labourers taken together, will in the 
same time do as much work as any other five. 1 But, however 
that may be, it is clear, that the collective working day of a 
large number of workmen simultaneously employed, divided 
by the number of these workmen, gives one day of average 
social labour. For example, let the working day of each 
individual be 12 hours. Then the collective working day of 
12 men simultaneously employed, consists of 144 hours; and 
although the labour of each of the dozen men may deviate 

1 "Unquestionably, there is a good deal of difference between the value of one 
man s labour and that of another from strength, dexterity, and honest application. 
But I am quite sure, from my best observation, that any given five men will, in their 
total, afford a proportion of labour equal to any other five within the periods of life I 
have stated ; that is, that among such five men there will be one possessing all the 
qualifications of a good workman, one bad, and thj other three middling, and ap 
proximating to the first and the last. So that in so small a platoon as that of even 
five, you will find the full complement of all that five men can earn." (E. Burke, 1. 
c. p. 15, 16). Compare Quetelet on the average individual. 

Co- Operation . 313 

more or less from average social labour, each of them requiring 
a different time for the same operation, yet since the work 
ing day of each is one-twelfth of the collective working day 
of 144 hours, it possesses the qualities of an average social 
working day. From the point of view, however, of the capi 
talist who employs these 12 men, the working day is that of 
the whole dozen. Each individual man s day is an aliquot 
part of the collective working day, no matter whether the 12 
men assist one another in their work, or whether the connexion 
between their operations consists merely in the fact, that the 
men are all working for the same capitalist. But if the 1 2 
men are employed in six pairs, by as many different small 
masters, it will be quite a matter of chance, whether each of 
these masters produces the same value, and consequently 
whether he realises the general rate of surplus-value. Devia 
tions would occur in individual cases. If one workman re 
quired considerably more time for the production of a com 
modity than is socially necessary, the duration of the necessary 
labour-time would, in his case, sensibly deviate from the 
labour-time socially necessary on an average; and consequently 
his labour would not count as average labour, nor his labour- 
power as average labour-power. It would either be not sale 
able at all, or only at something below the average value of 
labour-power. A fixed minimum of efficiency in all labour is 
therefore assumed, and we shall see, later on, that capita 
list production provides the means of fixing this minimum. 
Nevertheless, this minimum deviates from the average, al 
though on the other hand the capitalist has to pay the average 
value of labour-power. Of the six small masters, one would 
therefore squeeze out more than the average rate of surplus- 
value, another less. The inequalities would be compensated 
for the society at large, but not for the individual masters. 
Thus the laws of the production of value are only fully realised 
for the individual producer, when he produces as a capitalist, 
and employes a number of workmen together, whose labour, 
by its collective nature, is at once stamped as average social 
labour. 1 

1 Professor Reseller claims to have discovered that one needlewoman employed by 

314 Capitalist Production. 

Even without an alteration in the system of working, the 
simultaneous employment of a large number of labourers- 
effects a revolution in the material conditions of the labour- 
process. The buildings in which they work, the store-houses 
for the raw material, the implements and utensils used simul 
taneously or in turns by the workmen ; in short, a portion of 
the means of production, are now consumed in common. On 
the one hand, the exchange-value of these means of production 
is not increased ; for the exchange- value of a commodity is not 
raised by its use- value being consumed more thoroughly and to 
greater advantage. On the other hand, they are used in com 
mon, and therefore on a larger scale than before. A room 
where twenty weavers work at twenty looms must be larger 
than the room of a single weaver with two assistants. But it 
costs less labour to build one workshop for twenty persons 
than to build ten to accommodate two weavers each ; thus 
the value of the means of production that are concentrated for 
use in common on a large scale does not increase in direct pro 
portion to the expansion and to the increased useful effect of 
those means. When consumed in common, they give up a 
smaller part of their value to each single product ; partly 
because the total value they part with is spread over a greater 
quantity of products, and partly because their value, though 
absolutely greater, is, having regard to their sphere of action in 
the process, relatively less than the value of isolated means of 
production. Owing to this, the value of a part of the constant 
capital falls, and in proportion to the magnitude of the fall, the 
total value of the commodity also falls. The effect is the same 
as if the means of production had cost less. The economy 
in their application is entirely owing to their being con 
sumed in common by a large number of workmen. Moreover, 
this character of being necessary conditions of social labour, a 
character that distinguishes them from the dispersed and 
relatively more costly means of production of isolated, inde 
pendent labourers, or small masters, is acquired even when the 

Mrs. Roscher during two days, does more work than two needlewomen employed 
together during one day. The learned professor should not study the capitalist pro 
cess of production in the nursery, nor under circumstances where the principal per- 
onage, the capitalist, is wanting. 

Co-Operation. 3 1 5 

numerous workmen assembled together do not assist one 
another, but merely work side by side. A portion of the 
instruments of labour acquires this social character before the 
labour-process itself does so. 

Economy in the use of the means of production has to be 
considered under two aspects. First, as cheapening commodi 
ties, and thereby bringing about a fall in the value of labour- 
power. Secondly, as altering the ratio of the surplus-value to 
the total capital advanced, i.e., to the sum of the values of the 
constant and variable capital. The latter aspect will not be 
considered until we come to the third book, to which, with the 
object of treating them in their proper connexion, we also 
relegate many other points that relate to the present question. 
The march of our analysis compels this splitting up of the 
subject matter, a splitting up that is quite in keeping with the 
spirit of capitalist production. For since, in this mode of pro 
duction, the workman finds the instruments of labour existing 
independently of him as another man s property, economy in 
their use appears, with regard to him, to be a distinct operation, 
one that does not concern him, and which, therefore, has no 
connextion with the methods by which his own personal pro 
ductiveness is increased. 

When numerous labourers work together side by side, 
whether in one and the same process, or in different but con 
nected processes, they are said to co-operate, or to work in co 
operation. 1 

Just as the offensive power of a squadron of cavalry, or the 
defensive power of a regiment of infantry, is essentially 
different from the sum of the offensive or defensive powers of 
the individual cavalry or infantry soldiers taken separately, so 
the sum total of the mechanical forces exerted by isolated 
workmen differs from the social force that is developed, when 
many hands take part simultaneously in one and the same un 
divided operation, such as raising a heavy weight, turning a 
winch, or removing an obstacle. 2 In such cases the effect of 

* " Concourw de forces." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c., p. 78.) 

* " There are numerous operations of so simple a kind as act to admit a division 
into parts, which cannot be performed without the co-operation of many pairs of 
hand. I would instance the lifting of a large tree on to a wain. , . . everything, in 

316 Capitalist Production. 

the combined labour could either not be produced at all by 
isolated individual labour, or it could only be produced by a 
great expenditure of time, or on a very dwarfed scale. Not 
only have we here an increase in the productive power of the 
individual, by means of co-operation, but the creation of a new 
power, namely, the collective power of masses. 1 

Apart from the new power that arises from the fusion of 
many forces into one single force, mere social contact begets in 
most industries an emulation and a stimulation of the animal 
spirits that heighten the efficiency of each individual workman. 
Hence it is that a dozen persons working together will, in 
their collective working-day of 144* hours, produce far more 
than twelve isolated men each working 12 hours, or than one 
man who works twelve days in succession. 2 The reason of 
this is that man is, if not as Aristotle contends, a political, 3 at 
all events a social animal. 

Although a number of men may be occupied together at the 
same time on the same, or the same kind of work, yet the 
labour of each, as a part of the collective labour, ma} r corres 
pond to a distinct phase of the labour-process, through all whose 
phases, in consequence of co-operation, the subject of their 
labour passes with greater speed. For instance, if a dozen 
masons place themselves in a row, so as to pass stones from the 

short, which cannot be done unless a great many pairs of hands help each other in 
the same undivided employment and at the same time " (E. G. Wakefield : " A View of 
the Art of Colonisation." London : 1849, p. 168). 

1 " As one man cannot, and ten men must strain to lift a tun of weight, yet 100 
men can do it only by the strength of a finger of each of them. " (John Bellers : " Pro 
posals for raising a Colledge of Industry." London, 1G96, p. 21.) 

2 There is also " (when the same number of men are employed by one farmer on 
300 acres, instead of by ten farmers with 30 acres a piece) " an advantage in the pro 
portion of servants, which will not so easily be understood but by practical men ; for it 
is natural to say, as 1 is to 4, so are 3 to 12 : but this will not hold good in practice ; 
for in harvest time and many other operations which require that kind of despatch 
by the throwing many hands together, the work is better and more expeditiously 
done : f . i. in harvest, 2 drivers, 2 loaders, 2 pitchers, 2 rakers, and the rest at the 
rick, or in the barn, will despatch double the work that the same number of hands 
would do if divided into different gangs on different farms." ("An Inquiry into the 
connection between the present Price of Provisions and the Size of Farms." By a 
Farmer. London, 1773, pp. 7, 8.) 

3 Strictly, Aristotle s definition is that man is by nature a town-citizen. This is 
quite as characteristic of ancient classical society as Franklin s definition of man, as 
a tool-making animal, is characteristic of Yankeedom. 

Co-Operation. 3 1 7 

foot of a ladder to its summit, each of them does the same 
thing ; nevertheless, their separate acts form connected parts of 
one total operation ; they are particular phases, which must 
be gone through by each stone ; and the stones are thus 
carried up quicker by the 24 hands of the row of men than 
they could be if each man went separately up and down the 
ladder with his burden. 1 The object is carried over the same 
distance in a shorter time. Again, a combination of labour 
occurs whenever a building, for instance, is taken in hand on 
different sides simultaneously ; although here also the co 
operating masons are doing the same, or the same kind of 
work. The 12 masons, in their collective working day of 144* 
hours, make much more progress with the building than one 
mason could make working for 12 days, or 144 hours. The 
reason is, that a body of men working in concert has hands and 
eyes both before and behind, and is, to a certain degree, omni 
present. The various parts of the work progress simul 

In the above instances we have laid stress upon the point 
that the men do the same, or the same kind of work, because 
this, the most simple form of labour in common, plays a great 
part in co-operation, even in its most fully developed stage. 
If the work be complicated, then the mere number of the men 
who co-operate allows of the various operations being appor 
tioned to different hands, and, consequently, of being carried 
on simultaneously. The time necessary for the completion of 
the whole work is thereby shortened. 1 

1 " On doit encore remarquer que cette division partielle de travail pent se faire 
quand meme les ouvriers sont occupes d une meme besogne. Des masons par exemple, 
occupes a faire passer de mains en mains des briques & un echafaudage superieur, font 
tous la m6me besogne, et pourtant il existe parmi eux une espdce de division de travail, 
qui consiste en ce que chacun d eux fait passer la brique par un espace donne, et que 
tous ensemble la font parvenir beaucoup plus promptement a 1 endroit marque qu ila 
ne le feraient si chacun d eux portait sa brique se parement jusqu a I echafaudage 
supe rieur," (F. Skarbek : " Theorie des richesses sociales." Paris, 1829. t. I. 
pp. 97, 98.) 

2 "Est-il question d executer un travail complique, plusieurs choses doivent etre 
faites simultane ment. L un en fait une pendant que 1 autre en fait une autre, et 
tous contribuent a 1 eff et qu un seui homme n aurait pu produire. L un rame pendant 
que 1 autre tient le gouvernail, et qu un troisieme jette le filet ou harponne le poisson, 
et lapeche a un succes impossible sans ce concours." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c.) 

318 Capitalist Production. 

In many industries, there are critical periods, determined by 
the nature of the process, during which certain definite results 
must be obtained. For instance, if a flock of sheep has to be 
shorn, or a field of wheat to be cut and harvested, the quantity 
and quality of the product depends on the work being begun 
and ended within a certain time. In these cases, the time 
that ought to be taken by the process is prescribed, just as it 
is in herring fishing. A single person cannot carve a working 
day of more than, say 12 hours, out of the natural day, but 100 
men co-operating extend the working day to 1,200 hours. 
The shortness of the time allowed for the work is compensated 
for by the large mass of labour thrown upon the field of pro 
duction at the decisive moment. The completion of the task 
within the proper time depends on the simultaneous applica 
tion of numerous combined working days ; the amount of use 
ful effect depends on the number of labourers ; this number, 
however, is always smaller than the number of isolated 
labourers required to do the same amount of work in the same 
period. 1 It is owing to the absence of this kind of co-opera 
tion that, in the western part of the United Sta.tes, quantities 
of corn, and in those parts of East India where English rule has 
destroyed the old communities, quantities of cotton, are yearly 
wasted. 2 

On the one hand, co-operation allows of the work being 
carried on over an extended space ; it is consequently impera 
tively called for in certain undertakings, such as draining, con 
structing dykes, irrigation works, and the making of canals, 
roads and railways. On the other hand, while extending the 

1 "The doing of it (agricultural work) at the critical juncture is of so much the 
greater consequence." ("An Inquiry into the Connection between the Present Price," 
&c., p. 9.) "In agriculture, there is no more important factor than that of time." 
(Liebig : " Ueber Theorie und Praxis in der Landwirthschaft." 1856. p. 23.) 

2 " The next evil is one which one would scarcely expect to find in a country which 
exports more labour than any other in the world, with the exception, perhaps, of 
China and England the impossibility of procuring a sufficient number of hands to 
clean the cotton. The consequence of this is that large quantities of the crop are left 
unpicked, while another portion is gathered from the ground when it has fallen, and 
is of course discoloured and partially rotted, so that for want of labour at the proper 
season the cultivator is actually forced to submit to the loss of a large part of that 
crop for which England is so anxiously looking," (Bengal Hurkaru. Bi-Monthly 
Overland Summary of News, 22nd July, 1801.) 

Co- Operation. 319 

scale of production, it renders possible a relative contraction of 
the arena. This contraction of arena simultaneous with, and 
arising from, extension of scale, whereby a number of useless 
expenses are cut down, is owing to the conglomeration of 
labourers, to the aggregation of various processes, and to the 
concentration of the means of production. 1 

The combined working day produces, relatively to an equal 
sum of isolated working-days, a greater quantity of use- values, 
and, consequently, diminishes the labour-time necessary for the 
production of a given useful effect. Whether the combined 
working-day, in a given case, acquires this increased produc 
tive power, because it heightens the mechanical force of labour, 
or extends its sphere of action over a greater space, or con 
tracts the field of production relatively to the scale of produc 
tion, or at the critical moment sets large masses of labour to 
work, or excites emulation between individuals and raises their 
animal spirits, or impresses on the similar operations carried on 
by a number of men the stamp of continuity and many-sided 
ness, or performs simultaneously different operations, or econo 
mises the means of production by use in common, or lends to 
individual labour the character of average social labour which 
ever of these be the cause of the increase, the special produc 
tive power of the combined working day is, under all circum 
stances, the social productive power of labour, or the productive 
power of social labour. This power is due to co-operation 
itself. When the labourer co-operates systematically with 
others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and de- 
velopes the capabilities of his species. 8 

As a general rule, labourers cannot co-operate without being 
brought together : their assemblage in one place is a necessary 

1 In the progress of culture "all, and perhaps more than all, the capital and labour 
which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated for the more complete 
tillage of 100." Although " relatively to the amount of capital and labour employed, 
space is concentrated, it is an enlarged sphere of production, as compared to the 
sphere of production formerly occupied or worked upon by one single independent 
agent of production." (R. Jones : "An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth," part I. 
On Rent. London, 1831, p. 191.) 

2 " La forza di ciascuno uomo d m ; uima, ma la riunione delle minime forze forma 
una forza totale maggiore anche della somma delle forze medesime fino a che le forze 
per essere riunite possono diminuere il tempo ed accrescere lo spazio della loro azione.* 
(G. R. Carli, Note to P. Verri, 1. c. t., zv. p. 196.) 

320 Capitalis rroauction.. 

condition of their co-operation. Hence wage labourers cannot 
co-operate, unless they are employed simultaneously by the 
game capital, the same capitalist, and unless therefore their 
labour-powers are bought simultaneously by him. The total 
value of these labour-powers, or the amount of the wages of 
these labourers for a day, or a week, as the case may be, must 
be ready in the pocket of the capitalist, before the workmen 
are assembled for the process of production. The payment of 
300 workmen at once, though only for one day, requires a 
greater outlay of capital, than does the payment of a smaller 
number of men, week by week, during a whole year. Hence 
the number of the labourers that co-operate, or the scale of 
co-operation, depends, in the first instance, on the amount of 
capital that the individual capitalist can spare for the purchase 
of labour-power ; in other words, on the extent to which a 
single capitalist has command over the means of subsistence of 
a number of labourers. 

And as with the variable, so it is with the constant capital. 
For example, the outlay on raw material is 30 times as great, 
for the capitalist who employs 300 men, as it is for each of 
the 30 capitalists who employ 10 men. The value and quan 
tity of the instruments of labour used in common do not, it is 
true, increase at the same rate as the number of workmen, but 
they do increase very considerably. Hence, concentration of 
large masses of the means of production in the hands of indi 
vidual capitalists, is a material condition for the co-operation 
of wage-labourers, and the extent of the co-operation or the 
scale of production, depends on the extent of this concentration, 

We saw in a former chapter, that a certain minimum amount 
of capital was necessary, in order that the number of labourers 
simultaneously employed, and, consequently, the amount of 
surplus-value produced, might suffice to liberate the employer 
himself from manual labour, to convert him from a small 
master into a capitalist, and thus formally to establish capita 
list production. We now see that a certain minimum amount 
is a necessary condition for the conversion of numerous isolated 
and independent processes into one combined social process. 

We also saw that at first, the subjection of labour to capital 

Co- Operation. 3 2 i 

was only a formal result of the fact, that the labourer, instead 
of working for himself, works for and consequently under the 
capitalist. By the co-operation of numerous wage- labourers, 
the sway of capital developes into a requisite for carrying on 
the labour-process itself, into a real requisite of production. 
That a capitalist should command on the field of production, 
is now as indispensable as that a general should command on 
the field of battle. 

All combined labour on a large scale requires, more or less, a 
directing authority, in order to secure the harmonious working 
of the individual activities, and to perform the general func 
tions that have their origin in the action of the combined 
organism, as distinguished from the action of its separate 
organs. A single violin player is his own conductor; an 
orchestra requires a separate one. The work of directing, 
superintending, and adjusting, becomes one of the functions of 
capital, from the moment that the labour under the control of 
capital, becomes co-operative. Once a function of capital, it 
acquires special characteristics. 

The directing motive, the- end and aim of capitalist produc 
tion, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus- 
value, 1 and consequently to exploit labour-power to the greatest 
possible extent. As the number of the co-operating labourers 
increases, so too does their resistance to the domination of 
capital, and with it, the necessity for capital to overcome this 
resistance by counter-pressure. The control exercised by the 
capitalist is not only a special function, due to the nature of 
the social labour-process, and peculiar to that process, but it is, 
at the same time, a function of the exploitation of a social 
labour-process, and is consequently rooted in the unavoidable 
antagonism between the exploiter and the living and labouring 
raw material he exploits. 

Again, in proportion to the increasing mass of the means of 
production, now no longer the property of the labourer, but 
of the capitalist, the necessity increases for some effective 
control over the proper application of those means. 4 Moreover, 

1 " Profits ... is the sole end of trade." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c., p. 11.) 
3 That Philistine paper, the Spectator, states that after the introduction of 
A sort of partnership between capitalist and workmen in the " Wirework Company 


322 Capitalist Production. 

the co-operation of wage labourers is entirely brought about 
by the capital that employs them. Their union into one 
single productive body and the establishment of a connexion 
between their individual functions, are matters foreign and 
external to them, are not their own act, but the act of the 
capital that brings and keeps them together. Hence the con 
nexion existing between their various labours appears to them, 
ideally, in the shape of a preconceived plan of the capitalist, 
and practically in the shape of the authority of the same capi 
talist, in the shape of the powerful will of another, who sub 
jects their activity to his aims. If, then, the control of the 
capitalist is in substance twofold by reason of the twofold 
nature of the process of production itself, which, on the one 
hand, is a social process for producing use- values, on the 
other, a process for creating surplus-value in form that con 
trol is despotic. As co-operation extends its scale, this despot 
ism takes forms peculiar to itself. Just as afc first the capi 
talist is relieved from actual labour so soon as his capital has 
reached that minimum amount with which capitalist pro 
duction, as such, begins, so now, he hands over the work of 
direct and constant supervision of the individual workmen, 
and groups of workmen, to a special kind of wage labourer. 
An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a 
capitalist, requires, like a real army, officers (managers), and 
sergeants (foremen, overlookers), who, while the work is being 
done, command in the name of the capitalist. The work of 
supervision becomes their established and exclusive function. 
When comparing the mode of production of isolated peasants 
and artizans with production by slave labour, the political 
economist counts this labour of superintendence among the 
faux frais of production. But, when considering the capital* 

of Manchester," "the first result was a sudden decrease iu waste, the men not 
hi-.:irig why they should waste their own property any more than any other 
toaster s, and waste is, perhaps, next to bad debts, the greatest source of manufactur- 
aigloss." The same paper finds that the main defect in the Rochdale co-operative 
experiments is this: "They showed that associations of workmen could manage 
shops, mills, and almost all forms of industry with success, and they immediately 
improved the condition of the men ; but then they did not leave a clear place for 
masters." Quulle horreur ! 
J 1 rofes.sor Cairns, after stating that the superintendence of labour is a leading 

Co- Operation. 323 

1st mode of production, he, on the contrary, treats the work 
of control made necessary by the co-operative character of the 
labour process as identical with the different work of control, 
necessitated by the capitalist character of that process and the 
antagonism of interests between capitalist and labourer. 1 It 
is not because he is a leader of industry that a man is a 
capitalist ; on the contrary, he is a leader of industry because 
he is a capitalist. The leadership of industry is an attribute 
of capital, just as in feudal times the functions of general and 
judge were attributes of landed property. 3 

The labourer is the owner of his labour-power until he has 
done bargaining for its sale with the capitalist ; and he can 
sell no more than what he has i.e., his individual, iso 
lated labour-power. This state of things is in no way altered 
by the fact that the capitalist, instead of buying the labour- 
power of one man, buys that of 100, and enters into separate 
contracts with 100 unconnected men instead of with one. He 
is at liberty to set the 100 men to work, without letting them 
co-operate. He pays them the value of 100 independent 
labour-powers, but he does not pay for the combined labour- 
power of the hundred. Being independent of each other, the 
labourers are isolated persons, who enter into relations with 
the capitalist, but not with one another. This co-operation 
begins only with the labour process, but they have then ceased 
to belong to themselves. On entering that process, they be 
come incorporated with capital. As co-operators, as members 
of a working organism, they are but special modes of existence 
of capital. Hence, the productive power developed by the 
labourer when working in co-operation, is the productive 

feature of production by slaves in the Southern States of North America, continues : 
The peasant proprietor (of the North), appropriating the whole produce of his toil, 
needs no other stimulus to exertion. Superintendence is here completely dispensed 
with." (Gairnes, 1. c., pp. 48, 49.) 

Sir James Steuart, a writer altogether remarkable for his quick eye for the 
characteristic social distinctions between different modes of production, says : "Why 
do large undertakings in the manufacturing way ruin private industry, but by coming 
nearer to the simplicity of slaves ? " (" Prin. of Pol. Econ.," London, 1767, v. I., p. 
167 j 168.) 

2 Auguste Comte and his school might therefore have shown that feudal lords are 
an eternal necessity in the same way that they have done in the case of the lord* 
of capital. 

324 Capitalist Production. 

power of capital. This power is developed gratuitously, when 
ever the workmen are placed under given conditions, and it is 
capital that places them under such conditions. Because this 
power costs capital nothing, and because, on the other hand, 
the labourer himself does not develop it before his labour 
belongs to capital, it appears as a power with which capital 
is endowed by Nature a productive power that is immanent 
in capital. 

The colossal effects of simple co-operation are to be seen in. 
the gigantic structures of the ancient Asiatics, Egyptians, 
Etruscans, &c. " It has happened in times past that these 
Oriental States, after supplying the expenses of their civil and 
military establishments, have found themselves in possession 
of a surplus which they could apply to works of magnificence 
or utility, and in the construction of these their command over 
the hands and arms of almost the entire non-agricultural 
population has produced stupendous monuments which still 
indicate their power. The teeming valley of the Nile . . . 
produced food for a swarming non-agricultural population, and 
this food, belonging to the monarch and the priesthood, afforded 
the means of erecting the mighty monuments which filled the 
land. ... In moving the colossal statues and vast masses of 
which the transport creates wonder, human labour almost 
alone, was prodigally used. . . . The number of the labourers and 
the concentration of their efforts sufficed. We see mighty coral 
reefs rising from the depths of the ocean into islands and firm 
land, yet each individual depositor is puny, weak, and con 
temptible. The non-agricultural labourers of an Asiatic 
monarchy have little but their individual bodily exertions to 
bring to the task, but their number is their strength, and the 
power of directing these masses gave rise to the palaces and 
temples, the pyramids, and the armies of gigantic statues of 
which the remains astonish and perplex us. It is that con 
finement of the revenues which feed them, to one or a few 
hands, which makes such undertakings possible." This power 

1 E. Jones. "Text-book of Lectures," &c., pp. 77, 78. The ancient Assyrian, 
Egyptian, and other collections in London, and in other European capitals, make 
us eye-witnesses of the modes of carrying on that co-operative labour. 

Co- Operation. 325 

of Asiatic and Egyptian kings, Etruscan theocrats, &c., has in 
modern society been transferred to the capitalist, whether he 
be an isolated, or as in joint stock companies, a collective 

Co-operation, such as we find it at the dawn of human 
development, among races who live by the chase, 1 or, say, in 
the agriculture of Indian communities, is based, on the one 
hand, on ownership in common of the means of production, 
and on the other hand, on the fact, that in those cases, each 
individual has no more torn himself off from the navel- 
string of his tribe or community, than each bee has freed 
itself from connexion with the hive. Such co-operation is 
distinguished from capitalistic co-operation by both of the 
above characteristics. The sporadic application of co-operation 
on a large scale in ancient times, in the middle ages, and in 
modern colonies, reposes on relations of dominion and servi 
tude, principally on slavery. The capitalistic form, on the 
contrary, presupposes from first to last, the free wage labourer, 
who sells his labour-power to capital. Historically, however, 
this form is developed in opposition to peasant agriculture 
and to the carrying on of independent handicrafts whether in 
guilds or not. 2 From the standpoint of these, capitalistic co 
operation does not manifest itself as a particular historical 
form of co-operation, but co-operation itself appears to be a 
historical form peculiar to, and specifically distinguishing, the 
capitalist process of production. 

Just as the social productive power of labour that is de 
veloped by co-operation, appears to be the productive power 
of capital, so co-operation itself, contrasted with the process of 
production carried on by isolated independent labourers, or 
even by small employers, appears to be a specific form of the 

1 Linguet is probably right, when in his "Theorie des Lois Civiles," he declares 
hunting to be the first form of co-operation, and man-hunting (war) one of the earliest 
forms of hunting. 

2 Peasant agriculture on a small scale, and the carrying on of independent handi 
crafts, which together form the baaig of the feudal mode of production, and after 
the dissolution of that system, continue side by side with the capitalist mode, also 
form the economic foundation of the classical communities at their best, after the 
primitive form of ownership of land in cominon had disappeared, and before slavery 
had seized on production in earnest. 

326 Capitalist Production. 

capitalist process of production. It is the first change experi 
enced by the actual labour-process, when subjected to capi tal 
This change takes place spontaneously. The simultaneous 
employment of a large number of wage-labourers, in one and 
the same process, which is a necessary condition of this change, 
also forms the starting point of capitalist production. This 
point coincides with the birth of capital itself. If then, on the 
one hand, the capitalist mode of production presents itself to 
us historically, as a necessary condition to the transformation 
of the labour-process into a social process, so, on the other hand, 
this social form of the labour-process presents itself, as a method 
employed by capital for the more profitable exploitation of 
labour, by increasing that labour s productiveness. 

In the elementary form, under which we have hitherto 
viewed it, co-operation is a necessary concomitant of all pro 
duction on a large scale, but it does not, in itself, represent 
a fixed form characteristic of a particular epoch in the develop 
ment of the capitalist mode of production. At the most it 
appears to do so, and that only approximately, in the handi 
craft-like beginnings of manufacture, 1 and in that kind of 
agriculture on a large scale, which corresponds to the epoch of 
manufacture, and is distinguished from peasant agriculture, 
mainly by the number of the labourers simultaneously em 
ployed, and by the mass of the means of production con 
centrated for their use. Simple co-operation is always the 
prevailing form, in those branches of production in which 
capital operates on a large scale, and division of labour and 
machinery play but a subordinate part. 

Co-operation ever constitutes the fundamental form of the 
capitalist mode of production ; nevertheless, the elementary 
form of co-operation continues to subsist as a particular form 
of capitalist production side by side with the more developed 
forms of that mode of production. 

"Whether the united skill, industry, and emulation of many together on the 
same work be not the way to advance it? And whether it had been otherwise 
possible for England, to have carried on her Woollen Manufacture to so great a per 
fection?" (Berkeley. "The Querist." London, 1750, p. 56, par. 521.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 327 




THAT co-operation which is based on division of labour, assumes 
its typical form in manufacture, and is the prevalent character 
istic form of the capitalist process of production throughout 
the manufacturing period properly so called. That period, 
roughly speaking, extends from the middle of the 16th to the 
last third of the 18th century. 

Manufacture takes its rise in two ways : 

(1.) By the assemblage, in one workshop under the control 
of a single capitalist, of labourers belonging to various inde 
pendent handicrafts, but through whose hands a given article 
must pass on its way to completion. A carriage, for example, 
was formerly the product of the labour of a great number of inde 
pendent artificers, such as wheelwrights, harness-makers, tailors, 
locksmith^upholsterers^urners/ringe-makers^laziers, painters, 
polishers, gilders, &c. In the manufacture of carriages, how 
ever, all these different artificers are assembled in one build 
ing, where they work into one another s hands. It is true that 
a carriage cannot be gilt before it has been made. But if a 
number of carriages are being made simultaneously, some may 
be in the hands of the gilders while others are going through an 
earlier process. So far, we are still in the domain of simple 
co-operation, which finds its materials ready to hand in the 
shape of men and things. But very soon an important change 
takes place. The tailor, the locksmith, and the other artificers, 
being now exclusively occupied in carriage-making, each gradu 
ally loses, through want of practice, the ability to carry on, to 
its full extent, his old handicraft. But, on the other hand, his 
activity now confined in one groove, assumes the form best 
adapted to the narrowed sphere of action. At first, carriage 
manufacture is a combination of various independent handi 
crafts. By degrees, it becomes the splitting up of carriage 

328 Capitalist Production. 

making into its various detail processes, each of which 
crystallizes into the exclusive function of a particular work 
man, the manufacture, as a whole, being carried on by the men 
in conjunction. In the same way, cloth manufacture, as also a 
whole series of other manufactures, arose by combining 
different handicrafts together under the control of a single 
capitalist. 1 

(2.) Manufacture also arises in a way exactly the reverse of 
this namely, by one capitalist employing simultaneously in 
one workshop a number of artificers, who all do the same, or 
the same kind of work, such as making paper, type, or needles. 
This is co-operation in its most elementary form. Each of 
these artificers (with the help, perhaps, of one or two appren 
tices), makes the entire commodity, and he consequently 
performs in succession all the operations necessary for its 
production. He still works in his old handicraft-like way. 
But very soon external circumstances cause a different use to 
be made of the concentration of the workmen on one spot, and 
of the simultaneousness of their work. An increased quantity 
of the article has perhaps to be delivered within a given time. 
The work is therefore re-distributed. Instead of each man 
being allowed to perform all the various operations in succes 
sion, these operations are changed into disconnected, isolated 
ones, carried on side by side ; each is assigned to a different 
artificer, and the whole of them together are performed simul 
taneously by the co-operating workmen. This accidental 
repartition gets repeated, developes advantages of its own, and 
gradually ossifies into a systematic division of labour. The 

1 To give a more modern instance : The silk spinning and weaving of Lyons and 
Nimes " est toute patriarcale ; elle emploie beaucoup de femmes et d enfants, mais 
sans les epuiser ni les corrompre ; elle les laisse dans leur belles vallees de la Drome, 
du Var, de 1 Isere, de Vaucluse, pour y clever des vers et devider leurs oocons ; jamais 
elle n entre dans une veritable fabrique. Pour etre aussi bien observ6 . . . le principe 
de la division du travail s y revet d un caractere special. II y a bien des devideuses, 
des moulineurs, des teinturiers, des encolleurs, puis des tisserands ; mais ils ne sont pas 
reunis dans un m6me e tablissement, ne dependent pas d un meme maitre ; tous ils 
sont independants." (A. Blanqui : " Coxirs d Econ. Industrielle." Recueilli par A. 
Blaise. Paris, 1838-39, pp. 79). Since Blanqui wrote this, the various independent 
labourers have, to some extent, been united in factories. [And since Marx wrote 
the above, the powerloom has invaded these factories, and is now 1886 rapidly 
superseding the handloom. ED,] 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 329 

commodity, from being the individual product of an inde 
pendent artificer, becomes the social product of a union of 
artificers, each of whom performs one, and only one, of the 
constituent partial operations. The same operations which, in 
the case of a papermaker belonging to a German Guild, merged 
one into the other as the successive acts of one artificer, became 
in the Dutch paper manufacture so many partial operations 
carried on side by side by numerous co-operating labourers. 
The needlemaker of the Nuremberg Guild was the corner 
stone on which the English needle manufacture was raised. 
But while in Nuremberg that single artificer performed a series 
of perhaps 20 operations one after another, in England it was 
not long before there were 20 needlemakers side by side, each 
performing one alone of those 20 operations ; and in conse 
quence of further experience, each of those 20 operations was 
again split up, isolated, and made the exclusive function of a 
separate workman. 

The mode in which manufacture arises, its growth out of 
handicrafts, is therefore twofold. On the one hand, it arises 
from the union of various independent handicrafts, which become 
stripped of their independence and specialised to such an extent 
as to be reduced to mere supplementary partial processes in the 
production of one particular commodity. On the other hand, 
it arises from the co-operation of artificers of one handicraft ; 
it splits up that particular handicraft into its various detail 
operations, isolating, and making these operations independent 
of one another up to the point where each becomes the exclusive 
function of a particular labourer. On the one hand, therefore, 
manufacture either introduces division of labour into a process 
of production, or further developes that division ; on the other 
hand, it unites together handicrafts that were formerly separate. 
But whatever may have been its particular starting point, its 
final form is invariably the same a productive mechanism 
whose parts are human beings. 

For a proper understanding of the division of labour in 
manufacture, it is essential that the following points be firmly 
grasped. First, the decomposition of a process of production 
into its various successive steps coincides, here, strictly with 

33 Capitalist Production. 

the resolution of a handicraft into its successive manual 
operations. Whether complex or simple, each operation has 
to be done by hand, retains the character of a handicraft, and 
is therefore dependent on the strength, skill, quickness, and 
sureness, of the individual workman in handling his tools. 
The handicraft continues to be the basis. This narrow 
technical basis excludes a really scientific analysis of any 
definite process of industrial production, since it is still a con 
dition that each detail process gone through by the product 
must be capable of being done by hand and of forming, in its 
way, a separate handicraft. It is just because handicraft skill 
continues, in this way, to be the foundation of the process of 
production, that each workman becomes exclusively assigned 
to a partial function, and that for the rest of his life, his labour- 
power is turned into the organ of this detail function. 

Secondly, this division of labour is a particular sort of co- 
operation, and many of its disadvantages spring from the 
general character of co-operation, and not from this particular 
form of it. 


If we now go more into detail, it is, in the first place, clear 
that a labourer who all his life performs one and the same 
simple operation, converts his whole body into the automatic, 
specialised implement of that operation. Consequently, he 
takes less time in doing it, than the artificer who performs a 
whole series of operations in succession. But the collective 
labourer, who constitutes the living mechanism of manufacture, 
is made up solely of such specialised detail labourers. Hence, 
in comparison with the independent handicraft, more is pro 
duced in a given time, or the productive power of labour is 
increased. 1 Moreover, when once this fractional work is es 
tablished as the exclusive function of one person, the methods 
it employs become perfected. The workman s continued 

1 "The more any manufacture of much variety shall be distributed and assigned 
to different artists, the same must needs be better done and with greater expedition, 
with less loss of time and labour." (" The Advantages of the East India Trade, 1 
Lond., 1720. p. 71.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 331 

repetition of the same simple act, and the concentration of his 
attention on it, teach him by experience how to attain the 
desired effect with the minimum of exertion. But since there 
are always several generations of labourers living at one time, 
and working together at the manufacture of a given article. 

o o o 

the technical skill, the tricks of the trade thus acquired, 
become established, and are accumulated and handed down. 1 
Manufacture, in fact, produces the skill of the detail labourer, 
by reproducing, and systematically driving to an extreme 
within the workshop, the naturally developed differentiation of 
trades, which it found ready to hand in society at large. On 
the other hand, the conversion of fractional work into the life- 
calling of one man, corresponds to the tendency shown by 
earlier societies, to make trades hereditary ; either to petrify 
them into castes, or whenever definite historical conditions 
beget in the individual a tendency to vary in a manner incom 
patible with the nature of castes, to ossify them into guilds. 
Castes and guilds arise from the action of the same natural 
law, that regulates the differentiation of plants and animals 
into species and varieties, except that, when a certain degree 
of development has been reached, the heredity of castes and 
the exclusiveness of guilds are ordained as a law of society. 
" The muslins of Dakka in fineness, the calicoes and other piece 
goods of Coromandel in brilliant and durable colours, have 
never been surpassed. Yet they are produced without capital, 
machinery, division of labour, or any of those means which 
give such facilities to the manufacturing interest of Europe. 
The weaver is merely a detached individual, working a web 

1 "Easy labour is transmitted skill." (Th. Hodgskin, 1. c. p. 125). 

2 " The arts also have ... in Egypt reached the requisite degree of perfection. 
For it is the only country where artificers may not in any way meddle with the 
affairs of another class of citizens, but must follow that calling alone which by law is 

hereditary in their clan In other countries it is found that tradesman divide 

their attention between too many objects. At one time they try agriculture, at 
another they take to commerce, at another they busy themselves with two or three 
occupations at once. In free countries, they mostly frequent the assemblies of the 

people In Egypt, on the contrary, every artificer is severely punished if he 

meddles with affairs of State, or carries on several trades at once. Thus there is 
nothing to disturb their application to their calling. , . . Moreover, since they in 
herit from their forefathers numerous rules, they are eager to discover fresh 
advantages." (Diodorus Siculus: Bibl. Hist. 1. 1. c. 74.) 

33 2 Capitalist Production. 

when ordered of a customer, and with a loom of the rudest 
construction, consisting sometimes of a few branches or bars of 
wood, put roughly together. There is even no expedient for 
rolling up the warp ; the loom must therefore be kept 
stretched to its full length, and becomes so inconveniently 
large, that it cannot be contained within the hut of the 
manufacturer, who is therefore compelled to ply his trade in 
the open air, where it is interrupted by every vicissitude of 
the weather." 1 It is only the special skill accumulated from 
generation to generation, and transmitted from father to son, 
that gives to the Hindoo, as it does to the spider, this pro 
ficiency. And yet the work of such a Hindoo weaver is very 
complicated, compared with that of a manufacturing labourer. 

An artificer, who performs one after another the various 
fractional operations in the production of a finished article, 
must at one time change his place, at another his tools. The 
transition from one operation to another interrupts the flow 
of his labour, and creates, so to say, gaps in his working day. 
These gaps close up so soon as he is tied to one and the same 
operation all day long ; they vanish in proportion as the 
changes in his work diminish. The resulting increased pro 
ductive power is owing either to an increased expenditure 
of labour-power in a given time i.e., to increased intensity 
of labour or to a decrease in the amount of labour-power un- 
productively consumed. The extra expenditure of power, 
demanded by every transition from rest to motion, is made up 
for by prolonging the duration of the normal velocity when 
once acquired. On the other hand, constant labour of one 
uniform kind disturbs the intensity and flow of a man s animal 
spirits, which find recreation and delight in mere change of 

The productiveness of labour depends not only on the pro 
ficiency of the workman, but on the perfection of his tools. 
Tools of the same kind, such as knives, drills, gimlets, ham 
mers, &c., may be employed in different processes ; and the 

1 Historical and descriptive account of Brit. India, &c.,by Hugh Murray and James 
Wilson, &c., Edinburgh 1832. v. II. p. 449. The Indian loom is upright, i.e., the 
tvarp is stretched vertically. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 333 

same tool may serve various purposes in a single process. But 
so soon as the different operations of a labour-process are dis 
connected the one from the other, and each fractional operation 
acquires in the hands of the detail labourer a suitable and 
peculiar form, alterations become necessary in the implements 
that previously served more than one purpose. The direction 
taken by this change is determined by the difficulties ex 
perienced in consequence of the unchanged form of the imple 
ment. Manufacture is characterized by the differentiation of 
the instruments of labour a differentiation whereby imple 
ments of a given sort acquire fixed shapes, adapted to each 
particular application, and by the specialisation of those in 
struments, giving to each special implement its full play only 
in the hands of a specific detail labourer. In Birmingham 
alone 500 varieties of hammers are produced, and not only is 
each adapted to one particular process, but several varieties 
often serve exclusively for the different operations in one and 
the same process. The manufacturing period simplifies, im 
proves, and multiplies the implements of labour, by adapting 
them to the exclusively special functions of each detail la 
bourer. 1 It thus creates at the same time one of the material 
conditions for the existence of machinery, which consists of a 
combination of simple instruments. 

The detail labourer and his implements are the simplest 
elements of manufacture. Let us now turn to its aspect as a 


The organisation of manufacture has two fundamental forms, 
which, in spite of occasional blending, are essentially different 

1 Darwin in his epoch-making work on the origin of species, remarks, with reference 
to the natural organs of plants and animals, " So long as one and the same organ has 
different kinds of work to perform, a ground for its changeability may possibly be 
found in this, that natural selection preserves or suppresses each small variation of 
form less carefully than if that organ were destined for one special purpose alone. 
Thus, knives that are adapted to cut all sorts of things, may, on the whole, be of one 
shape ; but an implement destined to be used exclusively in one way must have a 
different shape for every different use. " 

334 Capitalist Production. 

in kind, and, moreover, play very distinct parts in the sub 
sequent transformation of manufacture into modern industry 
carried on by machinery. This double character arises from 
the nature of the article produced. This article either results 
from the mere mechanical fitting together of partial products 
made independently, or owes its completed shape to a series of 
connected processes and manipulations. 

A locomotive, for instance, consists of more than 5000 inde 
pendent parts. It cannot, however, serve as an example of 
the first kind of genuine manufacture, for it is a structure 
produced by modern mechanical industry. But a watch can ; 
and William Petty used it to illustrate the division of labour 
in manufacture. Formerly the individual work of a Nurem 
berg artificer, the watch has been transformed into the social 
product of an immense number of detail labourers, such as 
mainspring makers, dial makers, spiral spring makers, jewelled 
hole makers, ruby lever makers, hand makers, case makers, 
screw makers, gilders, with numerous sub-divisions, such as 
wheel makers (brass and steel separate), pin makers, movement 
makers, acheveur de pignon (fixes the wheels on the axles, 
polishes the facets, &c.), pivot makers, planteur de finissage 
(puts the wheels and springs in the works), finisseur de barillet 
(cuts teeth in the wheels, makes the holes of the right size, 
&c.), escapement makers, cylinder makers for cylinder escape 
ments, escapement wheel makers, balance wheel makers, ra- 
quette makers (apparatus for regulating the watch), the 
planteur d echappement (escapement maker proper) ; then the 
repasseur de barillet (finishes the box for the spring, &c.), 
steel polishers, wheel polishers, screw polishers, figure painters, 
dial enamellers (melt the enamel on the copper), fabricant de 
pendants (makes the ring by which the case is hung), finisseur 
de charniere (puts the brass hinge in the cover, &c.), faiseur de 
secret (puts in the springs that open the case), graveur, ciseleu^ 
polisseur de boite, &c., <fec., and last of all the repasseur, who 
fits together the whole watch and hands it over in a going 
istate. Only a few parts of the watch pass through several 
hands; and all these membra disjecta come together for the 
first time in the hand that binds them into one mechanical 

Division of Labour and Manufacture, 335 

whole. This external relation between the finished product, 
and its various and diverse elements makes it, as well in this 
case as in the case of all similar finished articles, a matter of 
chance whether the detail labourers are brought together in 
one workshop or not. The detail operations may further be 
carried on like so many independent handicrafts, as they are 
in the Cantons of Vaud and Neufchatel ; while in Geneva there 
exist large watch manufactories where the detail labourers 
directly co-operate under the control of a single capitalist. 
And even in the latter case the dial, the springs, and the case, 
are seldom made in the factory itself. To carry on the trade 
as a manufacture, with concentration of workmen, is, in the 
watch trade, profitable only under exceptional conditions, be 
cause competition is greater between the labourers who desire 
to work at home, and because the splitting up of the work 
into a number of heterogeneous processes, permits but little 
use of the instruments of labour in common, and the capitalist, 
by scattering the work, saves the outlay on workshops, fee. 1 
Nevertheless the position of this detail labourer who, though 
he works at home, does so for a capitalist (manufacturer, 
e*tablisseur), is very different from that of the independent 
artificer, who works for his own customers. 2 

The second kind of manufacture, its perfected form, pro 
duces articles that go through connected phases of develop - 

1 In the year 1854 Geneva produced 80,000 watches, which is not one-fifth of the 
production in the Canton of Neufchatel. La Chaux-de-Fond alone, which we may 
look upon as a huge watch manufactory, produces yearly twice as many as Geneva. 
From 1850-61 Geneva produced 750,000 watches. See " Report from Geneva on the 
"Watch Trade" in " Reports by H. M. s Secretaries of Embassy and Legation on the 
Manufactures, Commerce, &c., No. 6, 1863." The want of connexion alone, between 
the processes into which the production of articles that merely consist of parts fitted 
together is split up, makes it very difficult to convert such a manufacture into a 
branch of modern industry carried on by machinery ; but in the case of a watch there 
are two other impediments in addition, the minuteness and delicacy of its parts, and 
its character as an article of luxury. Hence their variety, which is such, that in the 
best London houses scarcely a dozen watches are made alike in the course of a year. 
The watch manufactory of Messrs. Vacheron & Constantin, in which machinery has 
been employed with success, produces at the most three or four different varieties of 
size and form. 

2 In watchmaking, that classical example of heterogeneous manufacture, we may 
study with great accuracy the above mentioned differentiation and specialisation of 
the instruments of labour caused by the sub-division of handicrafts. 

336 Capitalist Production. 

ment, through a series of processes step by step, like the wire* 
in the manufacture of needles, which passes through the hand& 
of 72 and sometimes even 92 different detail workmen. 

In so far as such a manufacture, when first started, com 
bines scattered handicrafts, it lessens the space by which the 
various phases of production are separated from each other. 
The time taken in passing from one stage to another is 
shortened, so is the labour that effectuates this passage. 1 In 
comparison with a handicraft, productive power is gained, and 
this gain is owing to the general co-operative character of 
manufacture. On the other hand, division of labour, which is 
the distinguishing principle of manufacture, requires the isola 
tion of the various stages of production and their independ 
ence of each other. The establishment and maintenance of a 
connexion between the isolated functions necessitates the in 
cessant transport of the article from one hand to another, and 
from one process to another. From the standpoint cf modern 
mechanical industry, this necessity stands forth as a character 
istic and costly disadvantage, and one that is immanent in the 
principle of manufacture. 8 

If we confine our attention to some particular lot of raw 
materials, of rags, for instance, in paper manufacture, or of 
wire in needle manufacture, we perceive that it passes in 
succession through a series of stages in the hands of the 
various detail workmen until completion. On the other hand, 
if we look at the workshop as a whole, we see the raw material 
in all the stages of its production at the same time. The col 
lective labourer, with one set of his many hands armed with 
one kind of tools, draws the wire, with another set, armed 
with different tools, he, at the same time, straightens it, with 
another, he cuts it, with another, points it, and so on. The 
different detail processes, which were successive in time, have 
become simultaneous, go on side by side in space. Hence, 

1 " In BO close a cohabitation of the people, the carriage must needs be less." (" The 
Advantages of the East India Trade, " p. 106. ) 

3 "The isolation of the different stages of manufacture, consequent upon the em 
ployment of manual labour, adds immensely to the cost of production, the loss 
mainly arising from the mere removals from one process to another." (" The Industry 
of Nations." Lond., 1855. Part II., p. 200.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 337 

production of a greater quantum of finished commodities in a 
given time. 1 This simultaneity, it is true, is due to the 
general co-operative form of the process as a whole ; but 
Manufacture not only finds the conditions for co-operation 
ready to hand, it also, to some extent, creates them by the 
sub-division of handicraft labour. On the other hand, it 
accomplishes this social organisation of the labour-process only 
by riveting each labourer to a single fractional detail. 

Since the fractional product of each detail labourer is, at the 
same time, only a particular stage in the development of one 
and the same finished article, each labourer, or each group of 
labourers, prepares the raw material for another labourer or 
group. The result of the labour of the one is the starting 
point for the labour of the other. The one workman therefore 
gives occupation directly to tha other. The labour-time 
necessary in each partial process, for attaining the desired 
effect, is learnt by experience ; and the mechanism of Manu 
facture, as a whole, is based on the assumption that a given 
result will be obtained in a given time. It is only on this 
assumption that the various supplementary labour-processes 
can proceed uninterruptedly, simultaneously, and side by side. 
It is clear that this direct dependence of the operations, and 
therefore of the labourers, on each other, compels each one of 
them to spend on his work no more than the necessary time, 
and thus a continuity, uniformity, regularity, order, 3 and even 
intensity of labour, of quite a different kind, is begotten than 
is to be found in an independent handicraft or even in simple 
co-operation. The rule, that the labour-time expended on a 
commodity should not exceed that which is socially necessary 
for its production, appears, in the production of commodities 
generally, to be established by the mere effect of competition ; 

1 "It (the division of labour) produces also an economy of time by separating the 
work into its different branches, all of which may be carried on into execution at the 
same moment. . . By carrying on all the different processes at once, which an in 
dividual must have executed separately, it becomes possible to produce a multitude 
of pins completely finished in the same time as a single pin might have been either 
cut or pointed." (Dugald Stewart, 1. c., p. 319.) 

8 "The more variety of artists fco every manufacture . . . the greater the orcer 
and regularity of every work, the same must needs be done in less time, the labour 
must be less." ( " The Advantages," &c., p. 68.) 


Capitalist Production. 

since, to express ourselves superficially, each single producer- 
is obliged to sell his commodity at its market price. In 
Manufacture, on the contrary, the turning out of a given 
quantum of product in a given time is a technical law of the 
process of production itself. 1 

Different operations take, however, unequal periods, and yield 
therefore, in equal times unequal quantities of fractional pro 
ducts. If, therefore, the same labourer has, day after day, to 
perform the same operation, there must be a different number 
of labourers for each operation ; for instance, in type manufac 
ture, there are four founders and two breakers to one rubber : 
the founder casts 2,000 type an hour, the breaker breaks up 
4,000, and the rubber polishes 8,000. Here we have again the 
principle of co-operation in its simplest form, the simultaneous 
employment of many doing the same thing ; only now, this 
principle is the expression of an organic relation. The division 
of labour, as carried out in Manufacture, not only simplifies and 
multiplies the qualitatively different parts of the social collec 
tive labourer, but also creates a fixed mathematical relation or 
ratio which regulates the quantitative extent of those parts 
i.e., the relative number of labourers, or the relative size of the 
group of labourers, for each detail operation. It developes, 
along with the qualitative sub-division of the social labour 
process, a quantitative rule and proportionality for that 

When once the most fitting proportion has been experi 
mentally established for the numbers of the detail labourers in 
the various groups when producing on a given scale, that scale 
can be extended only by employing a multiple of each particu 
lar group. 2 There is this to boot, that the same individual can 

3 Nevertheless, the manufacturing system, in many branches of industry, attains 
this result but very imperfectly, because it knows not how to control with certainty 
the general chemical and physical conditions of the process of production. 

* " When (from the peculiar nature of the produce of each manufactory), the num 
ber of processes into which it is most advantageous to divide it is ascertained, as well 
as the number of individuals to be employed, then all other manufactories which do 
not employ a direct multiple of this number will produce the article at a greater cost. 
, . . Hence arises one of the causes of the great size of manufacturing establish 
ments." (0. Babbage. " On the Economy of Machinery," 1st ed. London, 1832. 
Ch. xxi., p. 172-173.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 339 

do certain kinds of work just as well on a large as on a small 
scale ; for instance, the labour of superintendence, the carriage 
of the fractional product from one stage to the next, &c. The 
isolation of such functions, their allotment to a particular 
labourer, does not become advantageous till after an increase in 
the number of labourers employed ; but this increase must 
affect every group proportionally. 

The isolated group of labourers to whom any particular 
detail function is assigned, is made up of homogeneous ele 
ments, and is one of the constituent parts of the total 
mechanism. In many manufactures, however, the group itself 
is an organised body of labour, the total mechanism being a 
repetition or multiplication of these elementary organisms. 
Take, for instance, the manufacture of glass bottles. It may 
be resolved into three essentially different stages. First, the 
preliminary stage, consisting of the preparation of the com 
ponents of the glass, mixing the sand and lime, &c., and melting 
them into a fluid mass of glass. 1 Various detail labourers are 
employed in this first stage, as also in the final one of removing 
the bottles from the drying furnace, sorting and packing them^ 
&c. In the middle, between these two stages, comes the glass 
melting proper, the manipulation of the fluid mass. At each 
mouth of the furnace, there works a group, called " the hole," 
consisting of one bottlemaker or finisher, one blower, one 
gatherer, one putter-up or whetter-off, and one taker-in. These 
five detail workers are so many special organs of a single 
working organism that acts only as a whole, and therefore can 
operate only by the direct co-operation of the whole five. The 
whole body is paralysed if but one of its members be wanting. 
But a glass furnace has several openings (in England from 4 to 
6), each of which contains an earthenware melting-pot full of 
molten glass, and employs a similar five-membered group of 
workers. The organisation of each group is based on division 
of labour, but the bond between the different groups is simple 
co-operation, which, by using in common one of the means of 

1 In England, the melting-furnace is distinct from the glass-furnace in which the 
glass is manipulated. In Belgium, one and the same furnace serves for both 

34 Capitalist Production. 

production, the furnace, causes it to be more economically con 
sumed. Such a furnace, with its 4-6 groups, constitutes a 
glass house ; and* a glass manufactory comprises a number of 
such glass houses, together with the apparatus and workmen 
requisite for the preparatory and final stages. 

Finalty, just as Manufacture arises in part from the combina 
tion of various handicrafts, so, too, it developes into a combina 
tion of various manufactures. The larger English glass 
manufacturers, for instance, make their own earthenware 
melting-pots, because, on the quality of these depends, to a 
great extent, the success or failure of the process. The manu 
facture of one of the means of production is here united with 
that of the product. On the other hand, the manufacture of 
the product may be united with other manufactures, of which 
that product is the raw material, or with the products of which 
it is itself subsequently mixed. Thus, we find the manufacture 
of flint glass combined with that of glass cutting and brass 
founding ; the latter for the metal settings of various articles 
of glass. The various manufactures so combined form more or 
less separate departments of a larger manufacture, but are at 
the same time independent processes, each with its own 
division of labour. In spite of the many advantages offered by 
this combination of manufactures, it never grows into a complete 
technical system on its own foundation. That happens only 
on its transformation into an industry carried on by machinery. 

Early in the manufacturing period, the principle of lessening 
the necessary labour-time in the production of commodities, 1 
was accepted and formulated : and the use of machines, especi 
ally for certain simple first processes that have to be conducted 
on a very large scale, and with the application of great force, 
sprang up here and there. Thus, at an early period in paper 
manufacture, the tearing up of the rags was done by paper- 
mills ; and in metal works, the pounding of the ores was 
effected by stamping mills. 2 The Roman Empire had handed 

1 This can be seen from W. Petty, John Sellers, Andrew Yarranton, "The Ad 
vantages of the East India Trade," and J. Vanderlint, not to mention others. 

2 Towards the end of the 16th century, mortars and sieves were still used in France 
for pounding and washing ores. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 341 

down the elementary form of all machinery in the water- 
wheel. 1 

The handicraft period bequeathed to us the* great inventions 
of the compass, of gunpowder, of type-printing, and of the 
automatic clock. But, on the whole, machinery played that 
subordinate part which Adam Smith assigns to it in compari 
son with division of labour.* The sporadic use of machinery 
in the 17th century was of the greatest importance, because it 
supplied the great mathematicians of that time with a practical 
basis and stimulant to the creation of the science of mechanics. 

The collective labourer, formed by the combination of a 
number of detail labourers, is the machinery specially char 
acteristic of the manufacturing period. The various operations 
that are performed in turns by the producer of a commodity, 
and coalesce one with another during the progress of produc 
tion, lay claim to him in various ways. In one operation he 
must exert more strength, in another more skill, in another 
more attention ; and the same individual does not possess all 
these qualities in an equal degree. After Manufacture has 
once separated, made independent, and isolated the various 
operations, the labourers are divided, classified, and grouped 
according to their predominating qualities. If their natural 
endowments are, on the one hand, the foundation on which 
the division of labour is built up, on the other hand, Manu 
facture, once introduced, developes in them new powers that 
are by nature fitted only for limited and special functions. 
The collective labourer now possesses, in an equal degree of 

1 The whole history of the development of machinery can be traced in the history 
of the corn mill. The factory in England is still a " mill." In German technological 
works of the first decade of this century, the term " miihle " is still found in use, not 
only for all machinery driven by the forces of Nature, but also for all manufactures 
where apparatus in the nature of machinery is applied. 

2 As will be seen more in detail in the fourth book of this work, Adam Smith has 
not established a single new proposition relating to division of labour. What, how 
ever, characterises him as the political economist par excellence of the period of 
Manufacture, is the stress he lays on division of labour. The subordinate part which 
he assigns to machinery gave occasion in the early days ot modern mechanical in 
dustry to the polemic of Lander dal, and, at a later period, to that of Ure. A. Smith 
also confounds differentiation of the instruments of labour, in which the detail 
labourers themselves took an active part, with the invention of machinery ; in this 
latter, it is not the workmen in manufactories, but learned men, handicraftsmen, 
and even peasants (Brindley), who play a part. 

3. 4 2 Capitalist Production. 

excellence, all the qualities requisite for production, and ex 
pends them in the most economical manner, by exclusively 
employing all his organs, consisting of particular labourers, or 
groups of labourers, in performing their special functions. 1 
The one-sidedness and the deficiencies of the detail labourer 
become perfections when he is a part of the collective labourer. 9 
The habit of doing only one thing converts him into a never 
failing instrument, while his connexion with the whole me 
chanism compels him to work with the regularity of the parts 
of a machine. 8 

Since the collective labourer has functions, both simple and 
complex, both high and low, his members, the individual 
labour-powers, require different degrees of training, and must 
therefore have different values. Manufacture, therefore, de- 
velopes a hierarchy of labour-powers, to which there corres 
ponds a scale of wages. If, on the one hand, the individual 
labourers are appropriated and annexed for life by a limited 
function ; on the other hand, the various operations of the 
hierarchy are parcelled out among the labourers according to 
both their natural and their acquired capabilities. 4 Every 
process of production, however, requires certain simple manip- 

1 " The master manufacturer, by dividing the work to be executed into different 
processes, each requiring different degrees of skill or of force, can purchase exactly 
that precise quantity of both which is necessary for each process ; whereas, if the 
whole work were executed by one workman, that person must possess sufficient skill 
to perform the most difficult, and sufficient strength to execute the most laborious of 
the operations into which the article is divided," (Ch. Babbage, 1. c., ch. xviii.) 

3 For instance, abnormal development of some muscles, curvature of bones, &c. 

8 The question put by one of the Inquiry Commissioners, How the young persons 
are kept steadily to their work, is very correctly answered by Mr. Wm. Marshall, the 
general manager of a glass manufactory : " They cannot well neglect their work ; 
when they once begin, they must go on ; they are just the same as parts of a 
machine." ( "Children s Empl. Comm.," 4th Kep., 1865, p. 247.) 

4 Dr. Ure, in his apotheosis of Modern Mechanical Industry, brings out the peculiar 
character of manufacture more sharply than previous economists, who had not his pole 
mical interest in the matter, and more sharply even than his contemporaries Babbage, 
e.g., who, though much his superior as a mathematician and mechanician, treated me 
chanical industry from the standpoint of manufacture alone. Ure says, " This appro 
priation ... to each, a workman of appropriate value and cost was naturally assigned, 
forms the very essence of division of labour." On the other hand, he describes this 
division as " adaptation of labour to the different talents of men," and lastly, charac 
terises the whole manufacturing system as " a system for the division or gradation of 
labour," as "the division of labour into degrees of skill," &c. (Ure, 1. c. pp. 19-23 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 343 

ulations, which every man is capable of doing. They too 
are now severed from their connexion with the more preg 
nant moments of activity, and ossified into exclusive func 
tions of specially appointed labourers. Hence, Manufacture 
begets, in every handicraft that it seizes upon, a class of so- 
called unskilled labourers, a class which handicraft industry 
strictly excluded. If it deveJopes a one-sided speciality into a 
perfection, at the expense of the whole of a man s working 
capacity, it also begins to make a speciality of the absence of 
all development. Alongside of the hierarchic gradation there 
steps the simple separation of the labourers into skilled and 
unskilled. For the latter, the cost of apprenticeship vanishes ; 
for the former, it diminishes, compared with that of artificers, 
in consequence of the functions being simplified. In both 
cases the value of labour-power falls. 1 An exception to this 
law holds good whenever the decomposition of the labour- 
process begets new and comprehensive functions, that either 
had no place at all, or only a very modest one, in handicrafts. 
The fall in the value of labour-power, caused by the disap 
pearance or diminution of the expenses of apprenticeship, im 
plies a direct increase of surplus-value for the benefit of 
capital ; for everything that shortens the necessary labour- 
time required, for the reproduction of labour-power, extends the 
domain of surplus-labour. 



We first considered the origin of Manufacture, then its 
simple elements, then the detail labourer and his implements, 
and finally, the totality of the mechanism. "We shall now 
lightly touch upon the relation between the division of labour 
in manufacture, and the social division of labour, which forms 
the foundation of all production of commodities. 

If we keep labour alone in view, we may designate the 
separation of social production into its main divisions or 
genera viz., agriculture, industries, &c., as division of labour 

1 " Each handicraftsman being . . . enabled to perfect himself by practice in one 
point, became . . , a cheaper workman." (Ure, 1. c., p. 19.) 

344 Capitalist Production. 

in general, and the splitting up of these families into species 
and sub-species, as division of labour in particular, and the 
division of labour within the workshop as division of labour in 
singular or in detail. 1 

Division of labour in a society, and the corresponding tying 
down of individuals to a particular calling, developes itself, 
just as does the division of labour in manufacture, from opposite 
starting points. Within a family, 8 and after further develop 
ment within a tribe, there springs up naturally a division of 
labour, caused by differences of sex and age, a division that is 
consequently based on a purely physiological foundation, which 
division enlarges its materials by the expansion of the com 
munity, by the increase of population, and more especially, by 
the conflicts between different tribes, and the subjugation of 
one tribe by another. On the other hand, as I have before 
remarked, the exchange of products springs up at the points 
where different families, tribes, communities, come in contact ; 
for, in the beginning of civilisation, it is not private indi 
viduals but families, tribes, &c., that meet on an independent 
footing. Different communities find different means of pro 
duction, and different means of subsistence in their natural en 
vironment. Hence, their modes of production, and of living, 
and their products are different. It is this spontaneously de 
veloped difference which, when different communities come in 
contact, calls forth the mutual exchange of products, and the 

1 " Division of labour proceeds from the separation of professions the most widely 
different to that division, where several labourers divide between them the preparation 
of one and the same product, as in manufacture." (Storch : " Cours d Econ. Pol. 
Paris Edn." t. I., p. 173.) " Nous rencontrons chez les peuples parvenus a un certain 
degre de civilisation trois genres de divisions d industrie : la premiere, que nous 
nommerons generale, amene la distinction des producteurs en agriculteurs, manu- 
facturiers et commer^ans, elle se rapporte aux trois principales branches d industrie 
nationale ; la seconde, qu on pourrait appeler speciale, est la division de chaque genre 
d industrie en especes. ... la troisieme division d industrie, celle enfin qu on devrait 
qualifier de division de la besogne ou de travail proprement dit, est celle qui s etablit 
dans les arts et les metiers separes. . . . qui s etablit dans la plupart des manufactures 
et des ateliers." (Skarbek. 1. c. pp. 84, 85.) 

2 Note to the third edition. Subsequent very searching study of the primitive 
condition of man, led the author to the conclusion, that it was not the family that 
originally developed into the tribe, but that, on the contrary, the tribe was the primi 
tive and spontaneously developed form of human association, on the basis of blood 
relationship, and that out of the first incipient loosening of the tribal bonds, the 
many and various forms of the family were afterwards developed. (Ed. 3rd ed.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 345 

consequent gradual conversion of those products into com 
modities. Exchange does not create the differences between 
the spheres of production, but brings what are already different 
into relation, and thus converts them into more or less inter 
dependent branches of the collective production of an enlarged 
society. In the latter case, the social division of labour arises 
from the exchange between spheres of production, that are 
originally distinct and independent of one another. In the 
former, where the physiological division of labour is the starting 
point, the particular organs of a compact whole grow loose, 
and break off, principally owing to the exchange of commodi 
ties with foreign communities, and then isolate themselves so 

o * 

far, that the sole bond, still connecting the various kinds of 
work, is the exchange of the products as commodities. In the 
one case, it is the making dependent what was before inde 
pendent ; in the other case, the making independent what was 
before dependent. 

The foundation of every division of labour that is well de 
veloped, and brought about by the exchange of commodities, is 
the separation between town and country. 1 It may be said, 
that the whole economical history of society is summed up in 
the movement of this antithesis. We it over, however, 
for the present. 

Just as a certain number of simultaneously employed 
labourers are the material pre-requisites for division of labour 
in manufacture, so are the number and density of the popula 
tion, which here correspond to the agglomeration in one 
workshop, a necessary condition for the division of labour 
in society. 2 Nevertheless, this density is more or less relative. 

1 Sir James Steuart is the economist who has handled this subject best. How 
little his book, which appeared ten years before the " Wealth of Nations," is known, 
even at the present time, may be judged from the fact that the admirers of Malthus 
do not even know that the first edition of the latter s work on population contains, 
except in the purely declamatory part, very little but extracts from Steuart, and in 
a less degree, from Wallace and Townsend. 

2 "There is a certain density of population which is convenient, both for social 
intercourse, and for that combination of powers by which the produce of labour is 
increased." (James Mill, 1. c. p. 50.) " As the number of labourers increases, the 
productive power of society augments in the compound ratio of that increase, multi 
plied by the effects of the division of labour." (Th. Ilodgskin, 1. c. pp. 125, 126.) 

34-6 Capitalist Production. 

A relatively thinly populated country, with well-developed 
means of communication, has a denser population than a more 
numerously populated country, with badly-developed means of 
communication ; and in this sense the Northern States of the 
American Union, for instance, are more thickly populated than 
India. 1 

Since the production and the circulation of commodities are 
the general pre-requisites of the capitalist mode of production, 
division of labour in manufacture demands, that division of 
labour in society at large should previously have attained 
a certain degree of development. Inversely, the former 
division reacts upon and developes and multiplies the 
latter. Simultaneously, with the differentiation of the in 
struments of labour, the industries that produce these in 
struments, become more and more differentiated. 2 If the 
manufacturing system seize upon an industry, which, pre 
viously, was carried on in connexion with others, either as a 
chief or as a subordinate industry, and by one producer, these 
industries immediately separate their connexion, and become 
independent. If it seize upon a particular stage in the pro 
duction of a commodity, the other stages of its production 
become converted into so many independent industries. It 
has already been stated, that where the finished article con 
sists merely of a number of parts fitted together, the detail 
operations may re-establish themselves as genuine and sep 
arate handicrafts. In order to carry out more perfectly the 
division of labour in manufacture, a single branch of pro 
duction is, according to the varieties of its raw material, or the 
various forms that one and the same raw material may assume, 
split up into numerous, and to some extent, entirely new 
manufactures. Accordingly, in France alone, in the first half 
of the 18th century, over 100 different kinds of silk stuffs 

1 In consequence of the great demand for cotton after 1861, the production of 
cotton, in some thickly populated districts of India, was extended at the expense of 
rice cultivation. In consequence there arose local famins, the defective means of 
communication not permitting the failure of rice in one district to be compensated 
by importation from another. 

2 Thus, the fabrication of shuttles formed, as early as the 17th century, a special 
branch of industry in Holland. 

Division of Labour and Manufactiire. 347 

were woven, and in Avignon, it was law, that " every appren 
tice should devote himself to only one sort of fabrication, and 
should not learn the preparation of several kinds of stuff at 
once." The territorial division of labour, which confines 
special branches of production to special districts of a country, 
acquires fresh stimulus from the manufacturing system, which 
exploits every special advantage. 1 The Colonial system and 
the opening out of the markets of the world, both of which 
are included in the general conditions of existence of the 
manufacturing period, furnish rich material for developing 
the division of labour in society. It is not the place, here, to go 
on to show how division of labour seizes upon, not only the 
economical, but every other sphere of society, and everywhere 
lays the foundation of that all engrossing system of specialis 
ing and sorting men, that development in a man of one single 
faculty at the expense of all other faculties, which caused A. 
Ferguson, the master of Adam Smith, to exclaim: "We make 
a nation of Helots, and have no free citizens." 2 

But, in spite of the numberous analogies and links connecting 
them, division of labour in the interior of a society, and that 
in the interior of a workshop, differ not only in degree, but 
also in kind. The analogy appears most indisputable where 
there is an invisible bond uniting the various branches of 
trade. For instance the cattle breeder produces hides, the 
tanner makes the hides into leather, and the shoemaker, the 
leather into boots. Here the thing produced by each of them 
is but a step towards the final form, which is the product of 
all their labours combined. There are, besides, all the various 
industries that supply the cattle-breeder, the tanner, and the 
shoemaker with the means of production. Now it is quite 
possible to imagine, with Adam Smith, that the difference be 
tween the above social division of labour, and the division in 

1 " Whether the woollen manufacture of England is not divided into several parts 
or branches appropriated to particular places, where they are only or principally 
manufactured ; fine cloths in Somersetshire, coarse in Yorkshire, long ells at Exeter, 
soies at Sudbury, crapes at Norwich, linseys at Kendal, blankets at Whitney, and 
so forth." (Berkeley : "The Querist," 1750, p. 520.) 

3 A. Ferguson: "History of Civil Society." Edinburgh, 1767 ; Part iv. sect, ii., 
p. 285. 

348 Capitalist Production. 

manufacture, is merely subjective, exists merely for the 
observer, who, in a manufacture, can see with one glance, all 
the numerous operations being performed on one spot, while 
in the instance given above, the spreading out of the work 
over great areas, and the gieat number of people employed in 
each branch of labour, obscure the connexion. 1 But what is 
it that forms the bond between the independent labours of 
the cattle-breeder, the tanner, and the shoemaker ? It is the 
fact that their respective products are commodities. What, on 
the other hand, characterises division of labour in manufactures? 
The fact that the detail labourer produces no commodities. 2 
It is only the common product of all the detail labourers that 
becomes a commodity. 8 Division of labour in a society is 
brought about by the purchase and sale of the products of 
different branches of industry, while the connexion between 

1 In manufacture proper, he says, the division of labour appears to be greater, 
because " those employed in every different branch of the work can often be col 
lected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator. 
In those great manufactures, (!) on the contrary, which are destined to supply the 
great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work 
employs so great a number of workmen, that it is impossible to collect them all into 
the same workhouse . . . the division is not near so obvious." (A. Smith: "Wealth 
of Nations," bk. i. ch. i.) The celebrated passage in the same chapter that begins with 
the words, "Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day labourer 
in a civilized and thriving country, "&c. , and then proceeds to depict what an enormous 
number and variety of industries contribute to the satisfaction of the wants of an 
ordinary labourer, is copied almost word for word from B. de Mandeville s .Remarks 
to his " Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices, Publick Benefits." (First ed., without 
the remarks, 1706 ; with the remarks, 1714.) 

3 " There is no longer anything which we can call the natural reward of individual 
labour. Each labourer produces only some part of a whole, and each part, having no 
value or utility in itself, there is nothing on which the labourer can seize, and say : 
It is my product, this I will keep to myself." ( " Labour Defended against the Claims 
of Capital." Lond., 1825, p. 25.) The author of this admirable work is the Th. 
Hodgskin I have already cited. 

3 This distinction between division of labour in society and in manufacture, was 
practically illustrated to the Yankees. One of the new taxes devised at Washington 
during the civil war, was the duty of 6/ "on all industrial products." Question: 
What is an industrial product? Answer of the legislature: A thing is produced 
" when it is made," and it is made when it is ready for sale. Now, for one example 
out of many. The New York and Philadelphia manufacturers had previously been 
in the habit of "making" umbrellas, with all their belongings. But since an 
umbrella is a mixtum compositum of very heterogeneous parts, by degrees these 
parts became the products of various separate industries, carried on independently 
in different places. They entered as separate commodities into the umbrella man 
ufactory, where they were fitted together. The Yankees have given to articles thus 

Division of Laboiir and Manufacture. 349 

the detail operations in a workshop, are due to the sale of the 
labour-power of several workmen to one capitalist, who applies 
it as combined labour-power. The division of labour in the 
workshop implies concentration of the means of production in 
the hands of one capitalist ; the division of labour in society 
implies their dispersion among many independent producers of 
commodities. While within the workshop, the iron law of 
proportionality subjects definite numbers of workmen to de 
finite functions, in the society outside the workshop, chance and 
caprice have full play in distributing the producers and their 
means of production among the various branches of industry. 
The different spheres of production, it is true, constantly tend 
to an equilibrium: for, on the one hand, while each producer 
of a commodity is bound to produce a use-value, to satisfy a 
particular social want, and while the extent of these wants 
differs quantitatively, still there exists an inner relation which 
settles their proportions into a regular system, and that system 
one of spontaneous growth ; and, on the other hand, the law of 
the value of commodities ultimately determines how much of 
its disposable working-time society can expend on each par 
ticular class of commodities. But this constant tendency to 
equilibrium, of the various spheres of production, is exercised, 
only in the shape of a reaction against the constant upset 
ting of this equilibrium. The a priori system on which the 
division of labour, within the workshop, is regularly carried 
out, becomes in the division of labour within the society, an a 
posteriori, nature-imposed necessity, controlling the lawless 
caprice of the producers, and perceptible in the barometrical 
fluctuations of the market prices Division of labour within 
the workshop implies the undisputed authority of the capital 
ist over men, that are but parts of a mechanism that belongs 
to him. The division of labour within the society brings inta 
contact independent commodity-producers, who acknowledge 
no other authority but that of competition, of the coercion 
exerted by the pressure of their mutual interests ; just as in the 

fitted together, the name of "assembled articles," a name they deserve, for being 
an assemblage of taxes. Thus the umbrella "assembles," first, 6% on the price of 
each of its elements, and a further 6/ 3 on its own total price. 

35 Capitalist Production. 

animal kingdom, the bellum omnium contra omnes more or less 
preserves the conditions of existence of every species. The 
same bourgeois mind which praises division of labour in the 
workshop, life-long annexation of the labourer to a partial 
operation, and his complete subjection to capital, as being an 
organisation of labour that increases its productiveness that 
same bourgeois mind denounces with equal vigour every con 
scious attempt to socially control and regulate the process of 
production, as an inroad upon such sacred things as the lights 
of property, freedom and unrestricted play for the bent of 
the individual capitalist. It is very characteristic that the 
enthusiastic apologists of the factory system have nothing 
more damning to urge against a general organization of the 
labour of society, than that it would turn all society into one 
immense factory. 

If, in a society with capitalist production, anarchy in the 
social division of labour and despotism in that of the workshop 
are mutual conditions the one of the other, we find, on the con 
trary, in those earlier forms of society in which the separation 
of trades has been spontaneously developed, then crystallized, 
and finally made permanent by law, on the one hand, a speci 
men of the organisation of the labour of society, in accordance 
with an approved and authoritative plan, and on the other, 
the entire exclusion of division of labour in the workshop, 
or at all events a mere dwarf-like or sporadic and accidental 
development of the same. 1 

Those small and extremely ancient Indian communities, some 
of which have continued down to this day, are based on posses 
sion in common of the land, on the blending of agriculture and 
handicrafts, and on an unalterable division of labour, which 
serves, whenever a new community is started, as a plan and 
scheme ready cut and dried. Occupying areas of from 100 up 
to several thousand acres, each forms a compact whole pro 
ducing all it repuires. The chief part of the products is 

1 " On peut . . etablir en regie g6nerale, que moins 1 autorite preside a la division 
du travail dans 1 interieur de la societe, plus la division du travail so developpe dans 
1 interieur de 1 atelier, et plus elle y est soumise a 1 autoritfe d un seul. Ainsi 
1 autorite dans 1 atelier et celle dans la societe, par rapport a la division du travail, 
aont en raison inverse 1 une de 1 autre." (Karl Marx, " Misdre," &c., pp. 130-131.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 351 

destined for direct use by the community itself, and does not 
take the form of a commodity. Hence, production here is 
independent of that division of labour brought about, in Indian 
society as a whole, by means of the exchange of commodities. 
It is the surplus alone that becomes a commodity, and a portion 
of even that, not until it has reached the hands of the State, 
into whose hands from time immemorial a certain quantity of 
these products has found its way in the shape of rent in kind. 
The constitution of these communities varies in different parts 
of India. In those of the simplest form, the land is tilled in 
common, and the produce divided among the members. At 
the same time, spinning and weaving are carried on in each 
family as subsidiary industries. Side by side with the masses 
thus occupied with one and the same work, we find the " chief 
inhabitant," who is judge, police, and tax-gatherer in one ; the 
book-keeper who keeps the accounts of the tillage and registers 
everything relating thereto ; another official, who prosecutes 
criminals, protects strangers travelling through, and escorts 
them to the next village ; the boundary man, who guards the 
boundaries against neighbouring communities ; the water- 
overseer, who distributes the water from the common tanks 
for irrigation ; the Brahmin, who conducts the religious 
services ; the schoolmaster, who on the sand teaches the 
children reading and writing ; the calendar-Brahmin, or astro 
loger, who makes known the lucky or unlucky days for seed 
time and harvest, and for every other kind of agricultural 
work ; a smith and a carpenter, who make and repair all the 
agricultural implements ; the potter, who makes all the pottery 
of the village ; the barber, the washerman, who washes clothes, 
the silversmith, here and there the poet, who in some com 
munities replaces the silversmith, in others the schoolmaster. 
This dozen of individuals is maintained at the expense of the 
whole community. If the population increases, a new com 
munity is founded, on the pattern of the old one, on unoccupied 
land. The whole mechanism discloses a systematic division of 
labour ; but a division like that in manufactures is impossible, 
since the smith and the carpenter, &c., find an unchanging 
market, and at the most there occur, according to the sizes of 

35 2 Capitalist Production. 

the villages, two or three of each, instead of one. 1 The law 
that regulates the division of labour in the community acts 
with the irresistible authority of a law of Nature, at the same 
time that each individual artificer, the smith, the carpenter, 
and so on, conducts in his workshop all the operations of his 
handicraft in the traditional way, but independently, and 
without recognizing any authority over him. The simplicity 
of the organisation for production in these self-sufficing com 
munities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same 
form, and when accidentally destroyed, spring up again on the 
spot and with the same name 2 this simplicity supplies the 
key to the secret of the unchangeableness of Asiatic societies, 
an unchangeableness in such striking contrast with the con 
stant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic States, and the 
never-ceasing changes of dynasty. The structure of the 
economical elements of society remains untouched by the 
storm-clouds of the political sky. 

The rules of the guilds, as I have said before, by limiting 
most strictly the number of apprentices and journeymen that a 
single master could employ, prevented him from becoming a 
capitalist. Moreover, he could not employ his journeymen in 
any other handicraft than the one in which he was a master. 
The guilds zealously repelled every encroachment by the capital 
of merchants, the only form of free capital with which they 
came in contact. A merchant could buy every kind of com 
modity, but labour as a commodity he could not buy. He 
existed only on sufferance, as a dealer in the products of the 
handicrafts. If circumstances called for a further division of 
labour, the existing guilds split themselves up into varieties, or 

1 Lieut. -Col. Mark Wilks : "Historical Sketches of the South of India." Lond., 
1810-17, v. I., pp. 118-20. A good description of the various forms of the Indian 
communities is to be found in George Campbell s "Modern India." Lond., 1852. 

* "Under this simple form . . . the inhabitants of the country have lived from 
time immemorial. The boundaries of the villages have been but seldom altered ; and 
though the villages themselves have been sometimes injured, and even desolated by 
war, famine, and disease, the same name, the same limits, the same interests, and 
even the same families, have continued for ages. The inhabitants give themselves 
no trouble about the breaking up and division of kingdoms ; while the village remains 
entire, they care not to what power it is transferred, or to what sovereign it devolves ; 
its internal economy remains unchanged." (Th. Stamford Raffles, late Lieut. Gov, 
of Java : " The History of Java." Lond., 1817, Vol. I., p. 285.) 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 353 

founded new guilds by the side of the old ones ; all this, how 
ever, without concentrating various handicrafts in a single 
workshop. Hence, the guild organization, however much it 
may have contributed by separating, isolating, and perfecting 
the handicrafts, to create the material conditions for the exist 
ence of manufacture, excluded division of labour in the 
workshop. On the whole, the labourer and his means of pro 
duction remained closely united, like the snail with its shell, 
and thus there was wanting the principal basis of manufacture, 
the separation of the labourer from his means of production, 
and the conversion of these means into capital. 

While division of labour in society at large, whether such 
division be brought about or not by exchange of commodities, 
is common to economical formations of society the most diverse, 
division of labour in the workshop, as practised by manufacture, 
is a special creation of the capitalist mode of production 


An increased number of labourers under the control of one 
capitalist is the natural starting-point, as well of co-operation 
generally, as of manufacture in particular. But the division of 
labour in manufacture makes this increase in the number of 
workmen a technical necessity. The minimum number that 
any given capitalist is bound to employ is here prescribed by 
the previously established division of labour. On the other 
hand, the advantages of further division are obtainable only 
by adding to the number of workmen, and this can be done 
only by adding multiples of the various detail groups. But 
an increase in the variable component of the capital employed 
necessitates an increase in its constant component, too, in the 
workshops, implements, &c., and, in particular, in the raw 
material, the call for which grows quicker than the number of 
workmen. The quantity of it consumed in a given time, by a 
given amount of labour, increases in the same ratio as does the 
productive power of that labour in consequence of its division. 

Hence, it is a law, based on the very nature of manufacture, 


354 Capitalist Production. 

that the minimum amount of capital, which is bound to be in 
the hands of each capitalist, must keep increasing ; in other 
words, that the transformation into capital of the social means 
of production and subsistence must keep extending. 1 

In manufacture, as well as in simple co-operation, the collec 
tive working organism is a form of existence of capital. The 
mechanism that is made up of numerous individual detail 
labourers belongs to the capitalist. Hence, the productive 
power resulting from a combination of labours appears to be 
the productive power of capital. Manufacture proper not only 
subjects the previously independent workman to the discipline 
and command of capital, but, in addition, creates a hierarchic 
gradation of the workmen themselves. While simple co-opera 
tion leaves the mode of working by the individual for the most 
part unchanged, manufacture thoroughly revolutionises it, and 
seizes labour-power by its very roots. It converts the labourer 
into a crippled monstrosity, by forcing his detail dexterity 
at the expense of a world of productive capabilities and in 
stincts ; just as in the States of La Plata they butcher a whole 
beast for the sake of his hide or his tallow. Not only is the 
detail work distributed to the different individuals, but the in 
dividual himself is made the automatic motor of a fractional 
operation, 2 and the absurd fable of Menenius Agrippa, which 
makes man a mere fragment of his own body, becomes 
realised. 8 If, at first, the workman sells his labour-power to 
capital, because the material means of producing a commodity 

1 " It is not sufficient that the capital " (the writer should have said the necessary 
means of subsistence and of production) "required for the sub-division of handi 
crafts should be in readiness in the society : it must also be accumulated in the hands 
of the employers in sufficiently large quantities to enable them to conduct their 
operations on a large scale. . . . The more the division increases, the more does the 
constant employment of a given number of labourers require a greater outlay of capital 
in tools, raw material, &c." (Storch : Cours d Econ. Polit. Paris Ed., t. I., pp. 250, 
251.) " La concentration des instruments de production et la division du travail sont 
aussi inseparables 1 une de 1 autre que le sont, dans le regime politique, la concentra 
tion des pouvoirs publics et la division des inter^ts prives." (Karl Marx. 1. c., 
p. 134.) 

8 Dugald Stewart calls manufacturing labourers living automatons . . . employed 
in the details of the work." (1. c., p. 318.) 

3 In corals, each individual is, in fact, the stomach of the whole group ; but it sup 
plies the group with nourishment, instead of, like the Roman patrician, withdraw 
ing it. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 355 

fail him, now his very labour-power refuses its services unless 
it has been sold to capital. Its functions can be exercised 
only in an environment that exists in the workshop of the 
capitalist after the sale. By nature unfitted to make anything 
independently, the manufacturing labourer developcs produc 
tive activity as a mere appendage of the capitalist s workshop. 1 
As the chosen people bore in their features the sign manual of 
Jehovah, so division of labour brands the manufacturing work 
man as the property of capital. 

The knowledge, the judgment, and the will, which, though 
in ever so small a degree, are practised by the independent 
peasant or handicraftsman, in the same way as the savage 
makes the whole art of war consist in the exercise of his per 
sonal cunning these faculties are now required only for the 
workshop as a whole. Intelligence in production expands in 
one direction, because it vanishes in many others. What is 
lost by the detail labourers, is concentrated in the capital that 
employs them. 2 It is a result of the division of labour in 
manufactures, that the labourer is brought face to face with 
the intellectual potencies of the material process of production, 
as the property of another, and as a ruling power. This sepa 
ration begins in simple co-operation, where the capitalist re 
presents to the single workman, the oneness and the will of 
the associated labour. It is developed in manufacture which 
cuts down the labourer into a detail labourer. It is com 
pleted in modern industry, which makes science a productive 
force distinct from labour and presses it into the service of 
capital. 8 

1 L ouvrier qui porte dans ses bras tout un metier, peut aller partout exercer son 
Industrie et trouver des moyens de subsister : 1 autre (the manufacturing labourer) 
n est qu un accessoire qui, separe 1 de ses confreres, n a plus ni capacite, ni independ 
ence, et qui se trouve force d accepter la loi qu on juge a propos de lui imposer." 
(Storch. 1. c. Petersb. edit., 1815, t. I., p. 204.) 

2 A. Ferguson, 1. c., p. 281: "The former may have gained what the other has 

3 " The man of knowledge and the productive labourer come to be widely divided 
from each other, and knowledge, instead of remaining the handmaid of labour in the 
hand of the labourer to increase his productive powers . . . has almost everywhere 
arrayed itself against labour .... systematically deluding and leading them (the 
labourers) astray in order to render their muscular powers entirely mechanical and 
obedient." (W. Thompson: " An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of 
Wealth. London, 1824," p. 274.) 

3 56 Capitalist Production. 

In manufacture, in order to make the collective labourer, 
and through him capital, rich in social productive power, each 
labourer must be made poor in individual productive powers. 
" Ignorance iis the mother of industry as well as of superstition. 
Reflection and fancy are subject to err ; but a habit of moving 
the hand or the foot is independent of either. Manufactures, 
accordingly, prosper most where the mind is least consulted, 
and where the workshop may ... be considered as an engine, 
the parts of which are men." * As a matter of fact, some 
few manufacturers in the middle of the 18th century preferred, 
for certain operations that were trade secrets, to employ half- 
idiotic persons. 8 

" The understandings of the greater part of men," says Adam 
Smith, " are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. 
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple 
operations . . . has no occasion to exert his understanding. 
.... He generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is 
possible for a human creature to become." After describing 
the stupidity of the detail labourer he goes on : " The uni 
formity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of 

his mind It corrupts even the activity of his body and 

renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and 
perseverance in any other employments than that to which 
he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade 
seems in this manner to be acquired at the expense of his in 
tellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved 
and civilised society, this is the state into which the labouring 
poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily 
fall/ 1 For preventing the complete deterioration of the great 

1 A. Ferguson, 1. c., p. 280. 

* J. D. Tucketfe : " A History of the Past and Present State of the Labouring Popu 
lation." Lond., 1846. 

3 A. Smith : Wealth of Nations, Bk. V., ch. I., art. II. Being a pupil of A Fer 
guson who showed the disadvantageous effects of division of labour, Adam Smith 
was perfectly clear on this point. In the introduction to his work, where he ex pro- 
fesso praises division of labour, he indicates only in a cursory manner that it is the: 
source of social inequalities. It is not till the 5th Book, on the Revenue of the State, 
that he reproduces Ferguson. In my " Misere de la Philosophic," I have sufficiently 
explained the historical connection between Ferguson, A. Smith, Lemontey, and Say,. 
as regards their criticisms of Division of Labour, and have shown, for the first time,. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 357 

mass of the people by division of labour, A. Smith recommends 
education of the people by the State, but prudently, and in 
homoeopathic doses. G. Gamier, his French translator and 
commentator, who, under the first French Empire, quite natu 
rally developed into a senator, quite as naturally opposes him 
on this point. Education of the masses, he urges, violates the 
first law of the division of labour, and with it " our whole 
social system would be proscribed." " Like all other divisions 
of labour," he says, " that between hand labour and head 
labour 1 is more pronounced and decided in proportion as society 
(he rightly uses this word, for capital, landed property and 
their State) becomes richer. This division of labour, like every 
other, is an effect of past, and a cause of future progress .... 
ought the government then to work in opposition to this 
division of labour, and to hinder its natural course ? Ought it 
to expend a part of the public money in the attempt to con 
found and blend together two classes of labour, which are 
striving after division and separation ? " * 

Some crippling of body and mind is inseparable even from 
division of labour in society as a whole. Since, however, manu 
facture carries this social separation of branches of labour much 
further, and also, by its peculiar division, attacks the individual 
at the very roots of his life, it is the first to afford the materials 
for, and to give a start to, industrial pathology. 3 

" To subdivide a man is to execute him, if he deserves the 

that Division of Labour as practised in manufactures, ia a specific form of the capi 
talist mode of production. 

1 Ferguson had already said, 1. c. p. 281: "And thinking itself, in this age of 
separations, may become a peculiar craft." 

2 G. Gamier, vol. V. of his translation of A. Smith, pp. 4-5. 

8 Ramazzini, professor of practical medicine at Padua, published in 1713 his work 
"De morbis artificum," which was translated into French 1781, reprinted 1841 in the 
" Encyclopedic des Sciences Medicales. 7 me Dis. Auteurs Classiques." The period 
of Modern Mechanical Industry has, of course, very much enlarged his catalogue 
of labour s diseases. See " Hygiene physique et morale de 1 ouvrier dans les grandes 
villes en general et dans la ville de Lyon en particulier. Par le Dr. A. L. Fonterel, 
Paris, 1858," and " Die Krankheiten, welche verschiednen Standen, Altern und 
Geschlechtern eigenthumlich sind. 6 Vols. Ulm, 1860," and others. In 1854 the 
Society of Arts appointed a Commission of Inquiry into industrial pathology. The 
list of documents collected by this commission is to be seen in the catalogue of the 
Twickenham Economic Museum." Very important are the official "Reports on 
Public Health." See also Eduard Reich, M.D. "Ueber die Entartung des Men- 
chen," Erlangen, 1868. 

35 8 Capitalist Production. 

sentence, to assassinate him if he does not. . . . The sub 
division of labour is the assassination of a people." 1 

Co-operation based on division of labour, in other words, 
manufacture, commences as a spontaneous formation. So soon 
as it attains some consistence and extension, it becomes the re 
cognised methodical and systematic form of capitalist produc 
tion. History shows how the division of labour peculiar to 
manufacture, strictly so called, acquires the best adapted form 
at first by experience, as it were behind the backs of the actors, 
and then, like the guild handicrafts, strives to hold fast that 
form when once found, and here and there succeeds in keeping 
it for centuries. Any alteration in this form, except in trivial 
matters, is solely owing to a revolution in the instruments of 
labour. Modern manufacture wherever it arises I do not here 
allude to modern industry based on machinery either finds 
the disjecta membra poetse ready to hand, and only waiting to 
be collected together, as is the case in the manufacture of 
clothes in large towns, or it can easily apply the principle of 
division, simply by exclusively assigning the various operations 
of a handicraft (such as bookbinding) to particular men. In 
such cases, a week s experience is enough to determine the pro 
portion between the numbers of the hands necessary for the 
various functions. 8 

By decomposition of handicrafts, by specialisation of the in 
struments of labour, by the formation of detail labourers, and 
by grouping and combining the latter into a single mechanism,, 
division of labour in manufacture creates a qualitative grada 
tion, and a quantitative proportion in the social process of 
production ; it consequently creates a definite organisation of 
the labour of society, and thereby developes at the same time 

1 (D. Urquhart : Familiar Words. Lond., 1855, p. 119.) Hegel held very heretical 
views on division of labour. In his Rechtsphilosophie he says : " By -well educated 
men we understand in the first instance, those who can do everything that others 

3 The simple belief in the inventive genius exercised a priori by the individual 
capitalist in division of labour, exists now-a-days only among German professors, of 
the stamp of Herr Koscher, who, to recompense the capitalist from whose Jovian 
head division of labour sprang ready formed, dedicates to him " various wage^ " 
(diverse Arbeitslbhne). The more or less extensive application of division of labour 
depends on length of purse, not on greatness of genius. 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 359 

new productive forces in the society. In its specific capitalist 
form and under the given conditions, it could take no other 
form than a capitalistic one manufacture is but a particular 
method of begetting relative surplus-value, or of augmenting 
at the expense of the labourer the self-expansion of capital 
usually called social wealth, " Wealth of Nations," &c. It in 
creases the social productive power of labour, not only for the 
benefit of the capitalist instead of for that of the labourer, but 
it does this by crippling the individual labourers. It creates 
new conditions for the lordship of capital over labour. If, 
therefore, on the one hand, it presents itself historically as a 
progress and as a necessary phase in the economic develop 
ment of society, on the other hand it is a refined and civilised 
method of exploitation. 

Political economy, which as an independent science, first 
sprang into being during the period of manufacture, views 
the social division of labour only from the standpoint of 
manufacture, 1 and sees in it only the means of producing more 
commodities with a given quantity of labour, and, conse 
quently, of cheapening commodities and hurrying on the 
accumulation of capital In most striking contrast with this 
accentuation of quantity and exchange-value, is the attitude 
of the writers of classical antiquity, who hold exclusively by 
quality and use- value. 3 In consequence of the separation of 
the social branches of production, commodities are better 
made, the various bents and talents of men select a suitable 

1 The older writers, like Petty and the anonymous author of "Advantages of the 
East India Trade," bring out the capitalist character of division of labour as applied 
in manufacture more than A. Smith does. 

a Amongst the moderns may be excepted a few writers of the 18th century, like 
Beccaria and James Harris, who with regard to division of labour almost entirely 
follow the ancients. Thus, Beccaria : " Ciascuno prova coll esperienza, che applicando 
la mano e Hngegno sempre allo stesso genere di opere e di produtte, egli piu facili, 
piu abbondanti e migliori ne traca risultati, di quello che se ciascuno isolatamente le 
cose tutte a se necessarie soltanto facesse. . . . Dividendosi in tal maniera per la 
comune e privata utilita gli uomini in varie classi e condizioni." (Oesare Beccaria : 
"Elementi di Econ. Pubblica," ed. Oustodi, Parte Moderna, t. xi., p. 28.) James 
Harris, afterwards Earl of Malmesbury, celebrated for the Diaries " of his embassy 
at St. Petersburg, says in a note to his " Dialogue Concerning Happiness," Lond., 
17 11, reprinted afterwards in " Three Treatises, &c., 3 Ed., Lond., 1772 :" " The whole 
argument to prove society natural (i.e., by division of employments) ... is taken 
from the second book of Plato s Republic." 

360 Capitalist Production. 

field, 1 and without some restraint no important results can be 
obtained anywhere. 2 Hence both product and producer are 
improved by division of labour. If the growth of the quantity 
produced is occasionally mentioned, this is only done with 
reference to the greater abundance of use-values. There is not 
a word alluding to exchange-value or to the cheapening of 
commodities. This aspect, from the standpoint of use- value 
alone, is taken as well by Plato,* who treats division of labour 
as the foundation on which the division of society into classes 
is based, as by Xenophon, 4 who with characteristic bourgeois 

1 Thus, in the Odyssey xiv., 228, ""AXXo* yty r&XXoifn trip 
and Archilochus in Sextus Empiricus, " K\\ OS ;u \v t f y v xetf 

2 "llaXX rtvicrraro fyyci, xuxu; Vyfisraro -rcivra." Every Athenian considered him 
self superior as a producer of commodities to a Spartan ; for the latter in time of 
war had men enough at uis disposal but could not command money, as Thucydides 
makes Pericles say in the speech inciting the Athenians to the Peloponnesian war : 
" tifuurt TS ^rtifurtfn ol ctbrovpyol TUV a.vfpu-x uv fj <roj(.tf.uv." (Thuc : 1. I. o. 
41.) Nevertheless, even with regard to material production, avrapxttu, as opposed 
to division of labour remained their ideal, trap &>v yap TO *5, -rapa, TOUTUV xal r 
avrxpxts." It should be mentioned here that at the date of the fall of the 30 Tyrants 
there were still not 5000 Athenians without landed property. 

3 With Plato, division of labour within the community is a development from the 
multifarious requirements, and the limited capacities of individuals. The main point 
with him is, that the labourer must adapt himself to the work, not the work to the 
labourer ; which latter is unavoidable, if he carries on several trades at once, thus 
making one or the other of them subordinate. " Ou yap l^iXn * vparroftivoi <rriv <rtv 
vrpdrrovros f%oX*iv vrtpiftivziv, A.X avdyxti TOV vrpaTTovret rw <x > pa.rrop,l*iu ivrKx.o\ou6tiv pn 
lv tfetpipyov pipit. Avyxj. Ex $97 rav-rav vfXtiw Ti ^xtx.o rci ylyvircit Kotl xaXA./v xal 
fKOV) era* e7j v xetra <J>utrtv xdl Iv xaipeu ff%o\nv rut &K\uv Aytav fpar rri" (Rep. 1. 2. Ed. 
Baiter, Orelli, &c). So in Thucydides 1. c. c., 42: "Seafaring is a art like any 
other, and cannot, as circumstances require, be carried on as a subsidiary occupation; 
nay, other subsidiary occupations cannot be carried on alongside of this one. " If the 
work, says Plato, has to wait for the labourer, the critical point in the process is 
missed and the article spoiled, ipyav xuipov 2io\\vrat. " The same Platonic idea is 
found recurring in the protest of the English bleachers against the clause in the 
Factory Act that provides fixed meal times for all operatives. Their business cannot 
wait the convenience of the workmen, for " in the various operations of singeing, 
washing, bleaching, mangling, calendering, and dyeing, none of them can boetopped 
at a given moment without risk of damage .... to enforce the same dinner hour 
for all the work-people might occasionally subject valuable goods to the risk of danger 
by incomplete operations. " Le platonisme ou va-t-il se nicher ! 

4 Xenophon says, it is not only an honour to receive food from the table of the King 
of Persia, but such food is much more tasty than o^her food. "And there is nothing 
wonderful in this, for as th& other arts are brought to special perfection in the groat 
towns, so the royal food is prepared in a special way. For in the small town*- B he 
same man makes bedsteads, doors, ploughs, and tables: often, too, he builds houses 
into the bargain, and is quite content if he finds custom sufficient for his sustenance, 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 361 

instinct, approaches more nearly to division of labour within 
the workshop. Plato s Republic, in so far as division of labour 
is treated in it, as the formative principle of the State, is 
merely the Athenian idealisation of the Egyptian system of 
castes, Egypt having served as the model of an industrial 
country to many of his contemporaries also, amongst others to 
Isocrates, 1 and it continued to have this importance to the 
Greeks of the Roman Empire. 9 

During the manufacturing period proper, i.e., the period 
during which manufacture is the predominant form taken by 
capitalist production, many obstacles are opposed to the full 
development of the peculiar tendencies of manufacture. 
Although manufacture creates, as we have already seen, a 
simple separation of the labourers into skilled and unskilled, 
simultaneously with their hierarchic arrangement in classes, 
yet the number of the unskilled labourers, owing to the pre 
ponderating influence of the skilled, remains very limited. 
Although it adapts the detail operations to the various degrees 
of maturity, strength, and development of the living instru 
ments of labour, thus conducing to exploitation of women and 
children, yet this tendency as a whole is wrecked on the habits 
and the resistance of the male labourers. Although the 

It is altogether impossible for a man who does so many things to do them all well. 
But in the great towns, where each can find many buyers, one trade is sufficient to 
maintain the man who carries it on. Nay, there is often not even ueed of one com 
plete trade, but one man makes shoes for men, another for women. Here and there 
one man gets a living by sewing, another by cutting out shoes ; one does nothing but 
cut out clothes, another nothing but sew the pieces together. It follows necessarily 
then, that he who does the simplest kind of work, undoubtedly does it better than 
any one else. So it is with the art of cooking." (Xen. Cyrop. 1. viii., c. 2.) Xeno- 
phon here lays stress exclusively upon the excellence to be attained in use-value, 
although he well knows that the gradations of the division of labour depend on the 
extent of the market. 

1 He (Busiris) divided them all into special castes commanded that the 

same individuals should always carry on the same trade, for he knew that they who 
change their occupations become skilled in none ; but that those who constantly stick 
to one occupation bring it to the highest perfection. In truth, we shall also find that 
in relation to the arts and handicrafts, they have outstrippeditheir rivals more than a 
master does a bungler ; and the contrivances for maintaining the monarchy and the 
other institutions of their State are so admirable that the most celebrated philo 
sophers who treat of this subject praise the constitution of the Egyptian State abovo 

.all others. (Isocrates, Busiris, c. 8. ) 

2 Cf. Diodorus Siculus. 

362 Capitalist Production. 

splitting up of handicrafts lowers the cost of forming the work 
man, and thereby lowers his value, yet for the more difficult 
detail work, a longer apprenticeship is necessary, and, even 
where it would be superfluous, is jealously insisted upon by 
the workmen. In England, for instance, we find the laws of 
apprenticeship, with their seven years probation, in full force 
down to the end of the manufacturing period ; and they are 
not thrown on one side till the advent of Modern Industry. 
Since handicraft skill is the foundation of manufacture, and 
since the mechanism of manufacture as a whole possesses no 
framework, apart from the labourers themselves, capital is con 
stantly compelled to wrestle with the insubordination of the 
workmen. " By the infirmity of human nature," says friend 
Ure, "it happens that the more skilful the workman, the more 
self-willed and intractable he is apt to become, and of course 
the less fit a component of a mechanical system in which . . . 
he may do great damage to the whole." * Hence throughout 
the whole manufacturing period there runs the complaint of 
want of discipline among the workmen. 8 And had we not the 
testimony of contemporary writers, the simple facts, that during 
the period between the 16th century and the epoch of Modern 
Industry, capital failed to become the master of the whole 
disposable working-time of the manufacturing labourers, that 
manufactures are short-lived, and change their locality from 
one country to another with the emigrating or immigrating 
workmen, these facts would speak volumes. " Order must in 
one way or another be established," exclaims in 1770 the oft- 
cited author of the " Essay on Trade and Commerce." " Order," 
re-echoes Dr. Andrew Ure 66 years later, " Order " was wanting 
in manufacture based on " the scholastic dogma of division of 
labour," and " Arkwright created order." 

At the same time manufacture was unable, either to seize 
upon the production of society to its full extent, or to re 
volutionise that production to its very core. It towered up as 
an economical work of art, on the broad foundation of the town 

1 Ure, 1. c., p. 20. 

a This is more the case in England than in France, and more in France than ii> 

Division of Labour and Manufacture. 363 

handicrafts, and of the rural domestic industries. At a given 
stage in its development, the narrow technical basis on which 
manufacture rested, came into conflict with requirements of 
production that were created by manufacture itself. 

One of its most finished creations was the workshop for the 
production of the instruments of labour themselves, including 
especially the complicated mechanical apparatus then already 
employed. A machine-factory, says Ure, "displayed the division 
of labour in manifold gradations the file, the drill, the lathe, 
having each its different workman in the order of skill." (p. 5 
This workshop, the product of the division of labour in manufac 
ture, produced in its turn machines. It is they that sweep away 
the handicraftsman s work as the regulating principle of social 
production. Thus, on the one hand, the technical reason f< 
the life-long annexation of the workman to a detail function 
is removed. On the other hand, the fetters that this same 
principle laid on the dominion of capital, fall away. 


PART IV. (Continued.) 



TOHN STUAKT MILL says in his Principles of Political 
fj Economy : " It is questionable if all the mechanical inven 
tions yet made have lightened the day s toil of any human 
being/ 11 That is, however, by no means the aim of the capi 
talistic application of machinery. Like every other increase 
in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to 
cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of the 
working-day, in which the labourer works for himself, to 

1 Mill should have said, " of any human being not fed by other people s labour," 
for, without doubt, machinery has greatly increased the number of well-to-do idlers. 

366 Capitalist Production. 

lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, 
to the capitalist. In short, it is a means for producing surplus- 

In manufacture, the revolution in the mode of production 
begins with the labour-power, in modern industry it begins 
with the instruments of labour. Our first inquiry then is, 
how the instruments of labour are converted from tools into 
machines, or what is the difference between a machine and the 
implements of a handicraft ? We are only concerned here with 
striking and general characteristics ; for epochs in the history 
of society are no more separated from each other by hard and 
fast lines of demarcation, than are geological epochs. 

Mathematicians and mechanicians, and in this they are fol 
lowed by a few English economists, call a tool a simple machine, 
and a machine a complex tool. They see no essential differ 
ence between them, and even give the name of machine to the 
simple mechanical powers, the lever, the inclined plane, the 
screw, the wedge, &c. a As a matter of fact, every machine is 
a combination of those simple powers, no matter how they 
may be disguised. From the economical standpoint this ex 
planation is worth nothing, because the historical element is 
wanting. Another explanation of the difference between tool and 
machine is that in the case of a tool, man is the motive power, 
while the motive power of a machine is something different 
from man, is, for instance, an animal, water, wind, and so on. a 
According to this, a plough drawn by oxen, which is a con 
trivance common to the most different epochs, would be a 
machine, while Claussen s circular loom, which, worked by a 
single labourer, weaves 96,000 picks per minute, would be a 
mere tool. Nay, this very loom, though a tool when worked 
by hand, would, if worked by steam, be a machine. And since 
the application of animal power is one of man s earliest inven- 

* See, for instance, Hutton : " Course of Mathematics." 

2 " From this point of view we may draw a sharp line of distinction between a tool 
and a machine: spades, hammers, chisels, &c., combinations of levers and of screws, 
in all of which, no matter how complicated they may be in other respects, man is the 

motive power, all this falls under the idea of a tool ; but the plough, which 

is drawn by animal power, and windmills, &c. , must be classed among machines. " 
(Wilhelm Schulz : " Die Bewegung der Produktion. Zurich, 1843," p. 38.) In many 
respects a book to be recommended. 

Machinery and Modern Industry. 367 

tions, production by machinery would have preceded produc 
tion by handicrafts. When in 1735, John Wyalt brought out 
his spinning machine, and began the industrial revolution of 
the 18th century, not a word did he say about an ass driving 
it instead of a man, and yet this part fell to the ass. He de 
scribed it as a machine "to spin without fingers." 1 

All fully developed machinery consists of three essentially 
different parts, the motor mechanism, the transmitting mechan 
ism, and finally the tool or working machine. The motor 
mechanism is that which puts the whole in motion. It either 
generates its own motive power, like the steam engine, the 
caloric engine, the electro-magnetic machine, &c., or it receives 
its impulse from some already existing natural force, like the 
water-wheel from a head of water, the wind-mill from wind, 
&c. The transmitting mechanism, composed of fly-wheels, 
shafting, toothed wheels, pullies, straps, ropes, bands, pinions, 
and gearing of the most varied kinds, regulates the motion, 
changes its form where necessary, as for instance, from linear 
to circular, and divides and distributes it among the working 
machines. These two first parts of the whole mechanism are 
there, solely for putting the working machines in motion, by 
means of which motion the subject of labour is seized upon 

1 Before his time, spinning machines, although very imperfect ones, had already 
been used, and Italy was probably the country of their first appearance. A critical 
history of technology would show how little any of the inventions of the 18th century 
are the work of a single individual. Hitherto there is no such book. Darwin has 
interested us in the history of Nature s Technology, i.e., in the formation of the organs 
of plants and animals, which organs serve as instruments of production for sustaining 
life. Does not the history of the productive organs of man, of organs that are the 
material basis of all social organisation, deserve equal attention ? And would not 
such a history be easier to compile, since, as Vico says, human history differs from 
natural history in this, that we have made the former, but not the latter ? Techno 
logy discloses man s mode of dealing with Nature, the process of production by which 
he sustains his life, and thereby also lays bare the mode of formation of his social 
relations, and of the mental conceptions that flow from them. Every history of re 
ligion even, that fails to take account of this material 1-ftsis, is uncritical. It is, in 
reality, much easier to discover by analysis the earthly core of the misty creations of 
religion, than, conversely, it is, to develop from the actual relations of life the corres 
ponding celestialised forms of those relations. The latter method is the only mate 
rialistic, and therefore the only scientific one. The weak points in the abstract 
materialism of natural science, a materialism that excludes history and its process, 
are at once evident from the abstract and ideological conceptions of its spokesmen, 
whenever they venture beyond the bounds of their own speciality 

368 Capitalist Production. 

and modified as desired. The tool or working-machine is tha 
part of the machinery with which the industrial revolution of 
the 18th century started. And to this day it constantly serves 
as such a starting point, whenever a handicraft, or a manu 
facture, is turned into an industry carried on by machinery. 

On a closer examination of the working-machine proper, we 
find in it, as a general rule, though often, no doubt, under very 
altered forms, the apparatus and tools used by the handicrafts 
man or manufacturing workman ; with this difference, that 
instead of being human implements, they are the implements 
of a mechanism, or mechanical implements. Either the entire 
machine is only a more or less altered mechanical edition of 
the old handicraft tool, as, for instance, the power-loom ; * or 
the working parts fitted in the frame of the machine are old 
acquaintances, as spindles are in a mule, needles in a stocking- 
loom, saws in a sawing machine, and knives in a chopping 
machine. The distinction between these tools and the body 
proper of the machine, exists from their very birth ; for they 
continue for the most part to be produced by handicraft, or by 
manufacture, and are afterwards fitted into the body of the 
machine, which is the product of machinery. 3 The machine 
proper is therefore a mechanism that, after being set in motion, 
performs with its tools the same operations that were formerly 
done by the workman with similar tools. Whether the motive 
power is derived from man, or from some other machine, makes 
no difference in this respect. From the moment that the tool 
proper is taken from man, and fitted into a mechanism, a 
machine takes the place of a mere implement. The difference 
strikes one at once, even in those cases where man himself 
continues to be the prime mover. The number of implements 
that he himself can use simultaneously, is limited by the 

1 Especially in the original form of the power -loom, we ic-cognise, at the first 
glance, the ancient loom. In its modern form, the power-loon^ has undergone essen 
tial alterations. 

s It is only during the last 15 years (.., since about 1850), that a constantly 
increasing portion of these machine tools have been made in England by machinery, 
and that not by the same manufacturers who make the machines. Instances of 
machines for the fabrication of these mechanical tools are, the automatic bobbin- 
making engine, the card-setting engine, shuttle-making machines, and machines for 
forging mule and throstle spindles. 

Machinery and Modern Industry. 369 

number of his own natural instruments of production, by the 
number of his bodily organs. In Germany, they tried at first 
to make one spinner work two spinning wheels, that is, to 
work simultaneously with both hands and both feet. This 
was too difficult. Later, a treddle spinning wheel with two 
spindles was invented, but adepts in spinning, who could spin 
two threads at once, were almost as scarce as two-headed men. 
The Jenny, on the other hand, even at its very birth, spun 
with 12-18 spindles, and the stocking-loom knits with many 
thousand needles at once. The number of tools that a machine 
can bring into play simultaneously, is from the very first 
emancipated from the organic limits that hedge in the tools of 
a handicraftsman. 

In many manual implements the distinction between man as 
mere motive power, and man as the workman or operator 
properly so-called, is brought into striking contrast. For in 
stance, the foot is merely the prime mover of the spinning 
wheel, while the hand, working with the spindle, and drawing 
and twisting, performs the real operation ot spinning. It i 
this last part of the handicraftsman s implement that is first 
seized upon by the industrial revolution, leaving to the work 
man, in addition to his new labour of watching the machine 
with his eyes and correcting its mistakes with his hands, the 
merely mechanical part of being the moving power. On the 
other hand, implements, in regard to which man has always 
acted as a simple motive power, as, for instance, by turning the 
crank of a mill, 1 by pumping, by moving up and down the arm 
of a bellows, by pounding with a mortar, &c., such implements 
soon call for the application of animals, water,* and wind as 

1 Moses says : " Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads the corn. " The Christian 
philanthropists of Germany, on the contrary, fastened a wooden board round the 
necks of the serfs, whom they used as a motive power for grinding, in order to pre 
vent them from putting flour into their mouths with their bands. 

3 It was partly the want of streams with a good fall on them, and partly their 
battles with superabundance of water in other respects, that compelled the Dutch to 
resort to wind as a motive power. The windmill itself they got from Germany, where 
its invention was the origin of a pretty squabble between the nobles, the priestB, and 
the emperor, as to which of those three the wind "belonged." The air makes bond 
age, was the cry in Germany, at the same time that the wind was making Holland 
free. What it reduced to bondage in this case, was not the Dutchman, but the land 

2 A 

37 Capitalist Production. 

motive powers. Here and there, long before the period of 
manufacture, and also, to some extent, during that period, 
these implements pass over into machines, but without creat 
ing any revolution in the mode of production. It becomes 
evident, in the period of Modern Industry, that these imple 
ments, even under their form of manual tools, are already 
machines. For instance, the pumps with which the Dutch, in 
1836-7, emptied the Lake of Harlem, were constructed on the 
principle of ordinary pumps ; the only difference being, that 
their pistons were driven by cyclopean steam-engines, instead 
of by men. The common and very imperfect bellows of the 
blacksmith is, in England, occasionally converted into a blowing- 
engine, by connecting its arm with a steam-engine. The steam- 
engine itself, such as it was at its invention, during the manu 
facturing period at the close of the 17th century, and such as 
it continued to be down to 1780, 1 did not give rise to any in 
dustrial revolution. It was, on the contrary, the invention of 
machines that made a revolution in the form of steam-engines 
necessary. As soon as man, instead of working with an imple 
ment on the subject of his labour, becomes merely the motive 
power of an implement-machine, it is a mere accident that 
motive power takes the disguise of human muscle ; and it may 
equally well take the form of wind, water or steam. Of course, 
this does not prevent such a change of form from producing 
great technical alterations in the mechanism that was originally 
constructed to be driven by man alone. Nowadays, all machines 
that have their way to make, such as sewing machines, bread- 
making machines, &c., are, unless from their very nature their 
use on a small scale is excluded, constructed to be driven both 
by human and by purely mechanical motive power. 

The machine, which is the starting point of the industrial 
revolution, supersedes the workman, who handles a single tool, 
by a mechanism operating with a number of similar tools, and 

for the Dutchman. In 1836, 12,000 windmills of 6000 horse-power were still em 
ployed in Holland, to prevent two-thirds of the land from being reconverted into 

1 It was, indeed, very much improved by Watt s first so-called single acting engine ; 
hut, in this form, it continued to be a mere machine for raising water, and the liquor 
from salt mines. 

Machinery and Modern Industry. 371 

set in motion by a single motive power, whatever the form of 
that power may be. 1 Here we have the machine, but only as 
an elementary factor of production by machinery. 

Increase in the size of the machine, and in the number of its 
working tools, calls for a more massive mechanism to drive it ; 
and this mechanism requires, in order to overcome its resist 
ance, a mightier moving power than that of man, apart from 
the fact that man is a very imperfect instrument for producing 
uniform continued motion. But assuming that he is acting 
simply as a motor, that a machine has taken the place of his 
tool, it is evident that he can be replaced by natural forces. 
Of all the great motors handed down from the manufacturing 
period, horse-power is the worst, partly because a horse has a 
head of his own, partly because he is costly, and the extent to 
which he is applicable in factories is very restricted.* Never 
theless the horse was extensively used during the infancy of 
Modern Industry. This is proved, as well by the complaints of 
contemporary agriculturists, as by the term " horse-power," 
which has survived to this day as an expression for mechanical 

Wind was too inconstant and uncontrollable, and besides, in 

" The union of all these simple instrument!, set in motion by a single motor, con 
stitutes a machine." (Babbage, 1. c.) 

2 In January, 1861, John 0. Morton read before the Society of Arts a paper on 
* The forces employed in agriculture." He there states : "Every improvement that 
furthers the uniformity of the land makes the steam-engine more and more applicable 
to the production of pure mechanical force. . . . Horse-power is requisite wherever 
crooked fences and other obstructions prevent uniform action. These obstructions 
are vanishing day by day. For operations that demand more exercise of will than 
actual force, the only power applicable is that controlled every instant by the human 
mind in other words, man-power. Mr. Morton then reduces steam-power, horse- 
poAver, and man-power, to the unit in general use for steam-endues, namely, the 
force required to raise 33,000 Ibs. one foot in one minute, and reckons the cost of one 
horse-power from a steam engine to be 3d., and from a horse to be 5id. per hour. 
Further, if a horse must fully maintain its health, it can work no more than 8 hours 
a uay. Three at the least out of every seven horse used on tillage land during the 
year can be dispensed with by using steam-power, at an expense not greater than 
that -which, the horses dispensed with, would cost during the 3 or 4 months in which 
alone they can be used effectively. Lastly, steam-power, in those agricultural opera 
tions in which it can be employed, improves, in comparison with horse-power, the 
quality of the work. To do the work of a steam-engine would require 66 men, at a 
total cost of 15s. an hour, and to do the work of a horse, 32 men, at a total cost of 
s. an hour. 

37 2 Capitalist Production. 

England, the birthplace of Modern Industry, the use of water- 
power preponderated even during the manufacturing period, 
In the 17th century attempts had already been made to turn 
two pairs of millstones with a single water-wheel. But the 
increased size of the gearing was too much for the water- 
power, which had now become insufficient, and this was one 
of the circumstances that led to a more accurate investigation 
of the laws of friction. In the same way the irregularity 
caused by the motive power in mills that were put in motion 
by pushing and pulling a lever, led to the theory, and the 
application, of the fly-wheel, which afterwards plays so im 
portant a part in Modern Industry. 1 In this way, during the 
manufacturing period, were developed the first scientific and 
technical elements of Modern Mechanical Industry. Arkwright s 
throstle-spinning mill was from the very first turned by water. 
But for all that, the use of water, as the predominant motive 
power, was beset with difficulties. It could not be increased at 
will, it failed at certain seasons of the year, and, above all, it 
was essentially local. 3 Not till the invention of Watt s second 
and so called double-acting steam-engine, was a prime mover 
found, that begot its own force by the consumption of coal and 
water, whose power was entirely under man s control, that was 
mobile and a means of locomotion, that was urban and not,, 
like the water-wheel, rural, that permitted production to be 
concentrated in towns instead of, like the water-wheels, being 
scattered up and down the country, 3 that was of universal 
technical application, and, relatively speaking, little affected in 
its choice of residence by local circumstances. The greatness 

1 Faulhebr, 1625 ; De Cous, 1688. 

2 The modern turbine frees the industrial exploitation of water-power from many 
of its former fetters. 

3 "In the early days of textile manufactures, the locality of the factory depended 
upon the existence of & stream having a sufficient fall to turn a water-wheel ; and, 
although the establishment of the water mills was the commencement of the breaking 
up of the domestic system of manufacture, yet the mills necessarily situated tpon. 
streams, and frequently at considerable distances the one from the other, formed part 
of a rural, rather than an urban system ; and it was not until the introduction of the 
steam-power as a substitute for the stream that factories were congregated in towns, 
and localities where the coal and water required for the production of steam were found 
in sufficient quantities. The steam-engine is the parent of manufacturing towns. " (A. 
Kedgrave in " Keports of the Insp. of Fact. 30th April, 1866," p. 36.) 

Machinery and Modern Industry. 373 

of Watt s genius showed itself in the specification of the patent 
that he took out in April, 17S4<. In that specification his steam- 
engine is described, not as an invention for a specific purpose, 
but as an agent universally applicable in Mechanical Industry. 
In it he points out applications, many of which, as for instance, 
the steam-hammer, were not introduced till half a century 
later. Nevertheless he doubted the use of steam-engines in 
navigation. His successors, Boulton and Watt, sent to the 
exhibition of 1851 steam-engines of colossal size for ocean 

As soon as tools had been converted from bein manual 


implements of man into implements of a mechanical apparatus, 
of a machine, the motive mechanism also acquired an indepen 
dent form, entirely emancipated from the restraints of human 
strength. Thereupon the individual machine, that we have 
hitherto been considering, sinks into a mere factor in produc 
tion by machinery. One motive mechanism was now able to 
drive many machines at once. The motive mechanism grows 
with the number of the machines that are turned simul 
taneously, and the transmitting mechanism becomes a wide- 
spreading apparatus. 

We now proceed to distinguish the co-operation of a 
number of machines of one kind from a complex system of 

In the one case, the product is entirely made by a single 
machine, which performs all the various operations previously 
done by one handicraftsman with his tool ; as, for instance, by 
a weaver with his loom ; or by several handicraftsmen success 
ively, either separately or as members of a system of Manufac 
ture. 1 For example, in the manufacture of envelopes, one 
man folded the paper with the folder, another laid on the 

1 From the standpoint of division of labour in Manufacture, weaving was not 
simple, but, on the contrary, complicated manual labour ; and consequently the 
power-loom is a machine that does very complicated work. It is altogether erroneous 
to suppose that modern machinery originally appropriated those operations alone, 
which division of labour had simplified. Spinning and weaving were, during the 
manufacturing period, split up into new species, and the implements were modifieA 
and improved ; but the labour itself was in no way divided, and it retained its handi 
craft character. It is not the labour, but the instrumeut of labour, that serves us 
ihe starting-point of the machine. 

374 Capitalist Production. 

gum, a third turned the flap over, on which the device is 
impressed, a fourth embossed the device, and so on ; and for 
each of these operations the envelope had to change hands. 
One single envelope machine now performs all these operations 
at once, and makes more than 3000 envelopes in an hour. In 
the London exhibition of 1862, there was an American machine 
for making paper cornets. It cut the paper, pasted, folded, 
and finished 300 in a minute. Here, the whole process, which, 
when carried on as Manufacture, was split up into, and carried 
out by, a series of operations, is completed by a single machine, 
working a combination of various tools. Now, whether such 
a machine be merely a reproduction of a complicated manual 
implement, or a combination of various simple implements 
specialised by Manufacture, in either case, in the factory, i.e.+ 
in the workshop in which machinery alone is used, we meet 
again with simple co-operation ; and, leaving the workman 
out of consideration for the moment, this co-operation presents 
itself to us, in the first instance, as the conglomeration in one 
place of similar and simultaneously acting machines. Thus, a 
weaving factory is constituted of a number of power-looms, 
working side by side, and a sewing factory of a number of 
sewing machines all in the same building. But there is here 
a technical oneness in the whole system, owing to all the 
machines receiving their impulse simultaneously, and in an 
equal degree, from the pulsations of the common prime mover, 
by the intermediary of the transmitting mechanism ; and this 
mechanism, to a certain extent, is also common to them all, 
since only particular ramifications of it branch off to each 
machine. Just as a number of tools, then, form the organs of 
a machine, so a number of machines of one kind constitute the 
organs of the motive mechanism. 

A real machinery system, however, does not take the place 
of these independent machines, until the subject of labour goes 
through a connected series of detail processes, that are carried 
out by a chain of machines of various kinds, the one supple 
menting the other. Here we have again the co-operation by 
division of labour that characterises Manufacture ; only now, 
it is a combination of detail machines. The special tools of 

Machinery and Modern Industry. 375 

the various detail workmen, such as those of the beaters, 
combers, spinners, &c., in the woollen manufacture, are now 
transformed ~into the tools of specialised machines, each 
machine constituting a special organ, with a special function, 
in the system. In those branches of industry in which the 
machinery system is first introduced, Manufacture itself fur 
nishes, in a general way, the natural basis for the division, 
and consequent organisation, of the process of production. 1 
Nevertheless an essential difference at once manifests itself. In 
Manufacture it is the workmen who, with their manual imple 
ments, must, either singly or in groups, carry on each par 
ticular detail process. If, on the one hand, the workman be 
comes adapted to the process, on the other, the process was 
previously made suitable to the workman. This subjective 
principle of the division of labour no longer exists in produc 
tion by machinery. Here, the process as a whole is examined 
objectively, in itself, that is to say, without regard to ^the 
question of its execution by human hands, it is analysed into 
its constituent phases ; and the problem, how to execute each 
detail process, and bind them all into a whole, is solved by the 
aid of machines, chemistry, &c. J But, of course, in ^ this case 
also, theory must be perfected by accumulated experience on a 

i Before the epoch of Mechanical Industry, the wool manufacture was the pre 
dominating manufacture in England. Hence it was in this industry that, in the first 
half of the 18th century, the most experiments were made. Cotton, which required 
less careful preparation for its treatment by machinery, derived the benefit of the 
experience gained on wool, just as afterwards the manipulation of wool by machin 
ery was developed on the lines of cotton-spinning and weaving by machinery, 
was only during the 10 years immediately preceding 18G6, that isolated details 
of the wool manufacture, such as wool-combing, were incorporated in the factory 
system. "The application of power to the process of combing wool .... 
extensively in operation since the introduction of the combing machine, especially 
Lister s . . . undoubtedly had the effect of throwing a very large number of men 
out of work. Wool was formerly combed by hand, most frequently in the cottage of 
the comber. It is now very generally combed in the factory, and hand-labour is 
superseded, except in some particular kinds of work, in which hand-combed wool is 
still preferred. Many of the hand-combers found employment in the factories, but the 
produce of the hand-combers bears so small a proportion to that of the machine, that 
the employment of a very large number of combers has passed away." (Rep. of Insp. 

of Fact, for 31st Oct., 1856, p. 16.) 

2 "The principle of the factory system, then, is to substitute .... the partition 

of a process into its essential constituents, for the division or graduation of labour 
among artisans." (Andrew Ure: " The Philosouhv of Manufactures." Lond., 1835, 
p. 20.) 

376 Capitalist Production. 

large scale. Each detail machine supplies raw material to the 
machine next in order ; and since they are all working at the 
same time, the product is always going through the various 
stages of its fabrication, and is also constantly in a state of 
transition, from one phase to another. Just as in Manufacture, 
the direct co-operation of the detail labourers establishes a 
numerical proportion between the special groups, so in an 
organised system of machinery, where one detail machine is 
constantly kept employed by another, a fixed relation is estab 
lished between their numbers, their size, and their speed. The 
collective machine, now an organised system of various kinds 
of single machines, and of groups of single machines, becomes 
more and more perfect, the more the process as a whole be 
comes a continuous one, i.e., the less the raw material is inter 
rupted in its passage from its first phase to its last ; in other 
words, the more its passage from one phase to another is 
effected, not by the hand of man, but by the machinery itself. 
In Manufacture the isolation of each detail process is a condi 
tion imposed by the nature of div